Posted on January 12, 2020
How serious is an achilles tendon rupture?
A rupture of the Achilles tendon is not an uncommon problem in sporting activity and is quite dramatic when it happens, since the calf muscles and the connected Achilles tendon play such an crucial function. It is more likely to happen in explosive activities like tennis. The real issue is that the achilles tendon and the two muscles connected to it cross two joints (the knee as well as the ankle joint) and if both joints are moving in contrary directions simultaneously, especially if instantly (as can happen in tennis), then the potential for something failing is pretty high. The management of an achilles tendon rupture is a bit controversial because there are two options that almost all the research shows have got very similar outcomes. One option is conservative and the other is surgical. The conservative option is commonly placing the lower limb in cast that holds the foot pointing downwards a little. It can take as much as six weeks to heel up and after the cast is removed, there needs to be a slow and gentle come back to exercise. Physiotherapy is normally used to help with that.
The operative option for an achilles tendon rupture is to surgically stitch the two ends of the tendon back together, this is followed by a period of time in a cast which is shorter than the conservative choice, and will be followed by a similar steady and slow return to sport. When longer term outcomes are compared the final outcome is usually about the same, however the operative technique has the added potential for surgical or anaesthetic complications that the conservative method does not have. The choice as to which method is best will have to be one based mostly on the experiences of the doctor and the choices of the person with the rupture. There is a tendency for competitive athletes to go along the operative option since it is considered that this may give a better short term outcome and get them back to the sports field quicker.