Achilles Ruptures are more common in men then women and the typical age group that is affected is between the ages of 30-50. Some other risk factors include race, genetics, medical conditions, musculoskeletal disease, ankle and foot alignment (pronation/hyper-pronation), obesity, sports, exercise, medication and smoking.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It is connected to both the calf muscle and the heel bone and is a fibrous tissue that somewhat resembles twine. It is used when you walk, run, stand, jump and is especially stressed when you move quickly from side to side.
Although the Achilles tendon can withstand great stresses from running, twisting and jumping, it is extremely vulnerable to injury. A rupture of the tendon is a tearing and separation of the tendon fibers, so that the tendon can no longer perform its normal function.
People that are athletic and play sports or do extreme workouts are often times more frequently affected by Achilles tendon injuries. This is because they have jarring, ballistic movements. Sports like tennis, basketball and football all create these airborne movements. Also, exercises or workouts like jumping rope, or other high intensity movements can rupture the Achilles tendon. Corticosteroids and some other pain deterring injectables have been studied for their negative effect on the tendons, due to the medications actually breaking down the tissues and weakening the Achilles tendon.
When the tendon is ruptured, most notably, people remark of the popping sound they hear at the onset. It causes a tremendous amount of pain and unfortunately takes a very long time to heal.
There are several types of treatment options, both surgical and nonsurgical. The nonsurgical approach is to cast the foot in a pointed toe position and then gradually recasting to stretch the tendon back into place very slowly. The nonoperative repair has a much greater re-rupture rate than with surgery. We also use laser therapy in conjunction with stem cells as to repair the Achilles tendon.
The surgical repair of the Achilles rupture involves several different options. All of the options will reconnect the two ends of the tear back together by suturing them back into place. Sometimes this is done with a flap drawn down from the gastrocnemius (calf muscle), while other times its achieved with a donated graft, or simply sewn back together with a specific suturing method that ties both sides down and reconnects the sutures in the midline of the tear.
Whichever of the treatment options that your physician may choose, expect the rehabilitation to be quite long. There is no weight bearing activity allowed for several weeks, and then from there their will be many weeks of therapy. The length of healing for the average person is usually around 4 to 6 months.
At week 8 after your treatment, your Achilles tendon will be primarily healed, but not strong enough to put undue stress on it. It must be overprotected for several months to insure that it is not reinjured. For competitive and exercise, or sports enthusiast, they can expect a good 6-9 months before being back to their normal extreme routines
At Collier Podiatry, Dr. Petrocelli is highly experienced in treating Achilles tendon ruptures both surgically and non-surgically, depending on your unique circumstances. And they offer great options and routines for the most beneficial rehabilitation and healing.
The caring supportive staff at Collier Podiatry is available to answer your questions and make your appointment. Please visit their website at www.collierpodiatry.com, or call them direct at (239) 775-0019.
Dr. Petrocelli is certified by the American Board of Wound Management. He is also the staff Podiatrist at Naples Community Hospital Wound Healing Center.
NCH Countryside Commons
1715 Heritage Trail, Suite 204
Naples, FL 34112
Phone: (239) 775-0019
Fax: (239) 775-0219