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Achilles Tendon Repair
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Achilles (ah-KIL-ez) tendon (TEN-don) repair is surgery to fix your damaged Achilles tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and together with muscles, work to move your arms, legs, fingers, feet, and toes. The Achilles tendon is located at the ankle, and connects the calf muscle to heel bone. Achilles tendon repair is done to reattach a ruptured (completely torn) Achilles tendon. This may be done using an open or a mini-open surgery. In a mini-open surgery, a special device is used without making a large incision (cut) in the ankle area. A complete tendon rupture may be acute or chronic based on the duration of time from injury. Injuries that occurred within three weeks are considered as acute, and after three weeks they are chronic. Chronic injuries can only be repaired using the open surgery.
- During surgery, caregivers repair the injured Achilles tendon by sewing the ruptured ends together. A tendon or fascia (hard tissue) graft may be used to strengthen the repair. The graft may be man-made, taken from another part of your body, or from a donor. It is used mostly in chronic tendon injuries. After surgery you may need a splint or cast to protect the tendon and help it heal. You may need to do special exercises to help build the strength back in your ankles. With repair of the Achilles tendon, your regular ankle and foot movements may be returned, and normal activities restored.
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists.
- Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
- Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your wound checked, and the stitches removed.
You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.
Your physical therapist may teach you special exercises to do at home. Do only the exercises advised by your caregiver and do them only as often as your caregiver suggests. Do not do more than the range of motion exercises advised by your caregiver.
Using crutches or a cane:
You may need to use crutches or a cane as support when walking. These devices help decrease stress and strain on your ankle. Put only as much weight on your leg as advised by your caregiver. It is important to use crutches or a cane correctly. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to use crutches or a cane.
Wearing a brace, splint, or cast:
You may need to wear an ankle brace, splint, or cast after your surgery. This will help protect your ankle and keep it from moving too much so it can heal faster. It may also help decrease pain. The brace may be locked in place for a time after surgery.
- Keep your brace in a comfortable fit. Do not apply it too tightly.
- Your caregiver may let you unlock your ankle brace during exercises that increase range of motion. This may also be done when doing non-weight bearing exercises. Ask your caregiver for more information about wearing a brace.
- Check the skin around the splint or cast everyday. You may put lotion on any red or sore areas.
- You may take a bath or shower when your caregiver says it is OK. It is important not to get the splint or cast wet. Before bathing, cover the splint or cast with two plastic trash bags. Tape the bags to your skin above the splint or cast to seal out the water. Keep your foot out of the water in case the bag breaks. If a plaster cast gets wet and soft, call your caregiver. You can dry the wet part of the cast using a hair dryer set on low or no heat.
- Do not push down or lean on the splint or cast because it may break.
- Do not scratch the skin under the splint or cast by putting a sharp or pointed object inside the splint or cast.
- Do not remove the bandage over your wound or get it wet unless your caregiver says it is OK. Keep the bandage clean and dry.
- Always wash your hands before and after taking care of a wound to prevent spreading infection.
- Clean the wound as often as ordered by your caregiver. If you cannot reach the wound, ask for help.
- If you have steri-strips (thin strips of tape) over the incision, do not pull them off. As they start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves.
- Keep the stitches clean and dry. Do not trim or shorten the ends of your stitches. If they are rubbing on your clothing, you can put a soft gauze bandage between the stitches and your clothes.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You have pain and swelling in your leg, ankle, or foot that is getting worse.
- Your stitches are swollen, red, or have pus coming from them.
- You have questions or concerns about your injury, surgery, or medicine.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have a fever.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing all of a sudden.
- Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
- Your cast or splint breaks, or gets wet and soft.
- Your leg, ankle, or foot feels numb, tingly, cool to the touch, or look blue or pale.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.