PARAMUS, N.J. -- Achilles tendon ruptures are quite common, often occurring in sports that require sudden bursts of muscle power in the legs. Patients report the rupturing sensation feels like a kick to the heel or being hit with a tennis ball or racquetball in the heel. The pain is often accompanied by swelling, and followed by bruising and a weakness that affects walking.
During a doctor's examination, patients undergo what is called the Thompson test, where the patient’s calf is squeezed and if the foot moves, that means the Achilles tendon is intact. In some instances, MRI or ultrasound will aid in confirming the tear.
Once the diagnosis is made, patients have two treatment options: prolonged casting or surgery. Surgery has two major benefits over cast treatment. The first is a much lower rate of re-tearing the tendon in the future. The second benefit is surgery is more likely to reestablish the correct length of the tendon and help achieve near-normal strength when finally healed.
Surgery has two potential complications as well: improper wound healing and scar adhesions. Both can be directly correlated to the amount of surgery and the length of the surgical wound. For patients who choose surgery, minimally invasive Achilles tendon surgery can decrease both of these potential complications while still achieving the goals of surgical treatment.
One week after minimally invasive surgery, patients begin motion exercises. Over time, more motion, gentle strengthening, and eventually walking and running are added to the therapy program. To date, patient satisfaction with this technique is high and the complication rate is extremely low.
Dr. Andrew Elliott is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive Achilles tendon repair and arthroscopy, and arthritis of the foot and ankle. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York