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Achilles Tendon Repair
What you need to know about an Achilles tendon repair:
An Achilles tendon repair is surgery to fix a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon.
How to prepare for an Achilles tendon repair:
Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may need an ultrasound or MRI a few days before your surgery. This will help your healthcare provider plan your surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery.
What will happen during an Achilles tendon repair:
- You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may also be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider may make one large incision over your Achilles tendon. Instead, he may make several small incisions near your Achilles tendon. He will stitch the ends of your Achilles tendon together.
- Your healthcare provider may need to use a graft to help connect the ends of your Achilles tendon. A graft is a piece of another tendon or artificial material. He will close your skin with stitches and place a bandage over your incision. A cast or splint will be placed over your foot and leg. This will help keep your tendon from moving and help it heal.
What will happen after an Achilles tendon repair:
Healthcare providers will monitor you until you are awake. Your leg may feel numb for 8 to 24 hours after your surgery. This is caused by numbing medicine that was injected into your leg during surgery. When your healthcare provider says it is okay to get out of bed, do not put pressure on your leg. Your cast will stay on for at least 2 weeks. You will need physical therapy after your tendon has time to heal. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
Risks of an Achilles tendon repair:
You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during surgery. Your Achilles tendon may rupture again and you may need another surgery to fix it. You may get a blood clot in your leg, heart, or lungs. This may become life-threatening.
Call 911 if:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
- You have trouble breathing.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- Your splint or cast comes off.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have nausea or vomiting.
- Your skin is itchy, swollen, or you have a rash.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your cast or splint as directed:
Do not get your cast or splint wet. If your healthcare provider says you can shower, cover your cast or splint with a plastic bag. Do not put pressure on your cast or splint until your healthcare provider says it is okay. Do not put objects under your device to scratch your skin. This may cause an infection. Check your skin around the splint or cast for redness, swelling, or open areas. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to care for your cast or splint.
your leg above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your leg on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
Keep pressure off of your leg as directed.
Use crutches or a cane as directed. Do not stand on your leg. This could cause your stitches to come apart. Ask your healthcare provider when you can put weight on your leg.
Do not smoke:
Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can prevent your tendon from healing. Nicotine causes your blood vessels to close or get smaller. Smaller blood vessels limit the amount of oxygen needed to help heal your wound. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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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.