Achilles Tendon Injury: Surgery or Immobilization

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Topic Overview

If you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, instead of having surgery you may use a cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that will keep your lower leg from moving. This is called immobilization. When immobilized over a period of months, the Achilles tendon can slowly reattach and heal.

Things to think about

Immobilization is a wise treatment choice for some people. For others, it may not be the best choice. When deciding on treatment for your tendon rupture, think about how active you are and how much leg strength you need at home or at work. Also consider your age and your overall health.

Think about the following facts when you decide whether surgery or immobilization is best for you.

  • Immobilization does not have any surgical risks.
  • After immobilization, an Achilles tendon may be more likely to rupture again than it would be after surgery. But if you are not physically active in sports, at home, or at work, then your risk of rerupturing the tendon is low. In these cases, immobilization may be enough treatment for your needs.
  • After immobilization, your leg may be more likely to be weaker than after surgery.
  • The recovery time is about the same (as long as 6 months) with either choice.

Immobilization is usually followed by a rehabilitation program. This may include stretching, exercising, and physical therapy.

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Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014