Medical Minute: Achilles Injury and Repair
After several high-profile Achilles tears in the NFL have come to light, its sparked conversation on what an Achilles tear is and how long the recovery process is for athletes or people not in sports.
“After that, they have some swelling, pain in the back of the Achilles region and in the back of the ankle,” Dr. Steginsky said, “They’ll have difficulty walking, particularly with stairs, they might limp.”
According to the surgeon, an Achilles injury is common in males.
“About 83 percent of patients with Achilles ruptures are males versus females and age demographic is normally between 30 and 50 with an average age of about 40 to 45,” Dr. Steginsky said.
He said it normally happens in patients who are “weekend warriors,” meaning they’ll actively move around every so often whether that’s by running, playing Soccer, Basketball or Pickleball.
For years, Dr. Steginsky has been using a knotless technique which essentially is more biological friendly technique when repairing an Achilles tendon rupture.
“I’m able to do it by a two-centimeter incision, which is less than an inch,” Dr. Steginsky said, “Classically, we’ve done it through larger incisions, maybe three to four inches, and you can imagine that a larger incision might lead to post operative adhesions or scarring in that area.”
This less minimally invasive technique is becoming more popular for surgeons and patients around the world.
“It allows patients to be more active sooner, resting assure that the Achilles tendon remains approximated with relatively lower rupture rates, so there’s a lot of advantages of doing it minimally invasive,” Dr. Steginsky said.
For Dr. Steginsky, his patients are typically back up walking around three weeks, back in tennis shoes around eight weeks, and encouraged to slowly introduce activity back into their lives around three to four months. However, the journey to recovery can look a little different for each person, depending on age or their physical status prior to surgery.
“It’s harder to return a pro-athlete back to a professional sport after an Achilles rupture than a more sedentary patient like myself that maybe just does things on the weekend like running,” Dr. Steginsky said, “I think it’s probably a little bit easier of a task for me to return.”
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