Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The best treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon often depends on your age, activity level and the severity of your injury. In general, younger and more active people often choose surgery to repair a completely ruptured Achilles tendon while older people are more likely to opt for nonsurgical treatment. Recent studies, however, have shown fairly equal effectiveness of both operative and nonoperative management.
This approach typically involves wearing a cast or walking boot with wedges to elevate your heel; this allows the ends of your torn tendon to heal. This method can be effective, and it avoids the risks, such as infection, associated with surgery. However, the likelihood of re-rupture may be higher with a nonsurgical approach, and recovery can take longer. If re-rupture occurs, surgical repair may be more difficult.
Surgery is a common treatment for a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon. The procedure generally involves making an incision in the back of your lower leg and stitching the torn tendon together. Depending on the condition of the torn tissue, the repair may be reinforced with other tendons. Surgical complications can include infection and nerve damage. Infection rates are reduced in surgeries that employ smaller incisions.
After treatment, whether surgical or nonsurgical, you'll go through a rehabilitation program involving physical therapy exercises to strengthen your leg muscles and Achilles tendon. Most people return to their former level of activity within four to six months.
- Baer GS, et al. Achilles tendon rupture. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..X0001-2--TOP&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Ham P, et al. Achilles tendinopathy and tendon rupture. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Khan RJ, et al. Surgical interventions for treating acute Achilles tendon ruptures (review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010:CD003674.
- Mercier LR. Achilles tendon rupture. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Carr JB. Achilles tendon rupture. In: Browner BD, et al. Skeletal Trauma. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: W.B. Saunders Co.; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2220-6..10060-X--s0630&isbn=978-1-4160-2220-6&sid=1182706148&uniqId=268192316-4#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2220-6..10060-X--s0630. Accessed July 21, 2011.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 26, 2011.