Heel Pain Surgery: Achilles Tendonitis

The 26 Review

  • What is Heel Pain Surgery  A same day procedure to relieve chronic pain on the back of the heel
  • How An incision is created on the back of the heel. The bone spur is removed and the Achilles tendon is repaired.
  • Why This procedure reduces heel pain and facilitates a return to activities.
  • Recommended for Patients experiencing pain, stiffness, swelling, bone spur formation, and difficulty walking
  • Length of Treatment This procedure takes roughly 1 hour.
  • Downtime 2-3 months of downtime before returning to normal activities

Let’s take a closer look…

The Achilles Tendon is a long, thick band of connective tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is the longest and strongest tendon in the body, meant to endure stress from daily activities and sports. The Achilles tendon allows us to walk, run, jump, and stand on our toes. However, the Achilles tendon can tear, rupture, and degenerate over time. Typically, a tear or rupture occurs due to a sudden, strong force during tough physical activity. When the tendon is overly tight, it can result in bone spurs to develop on the back of the heel. Additional bone growths and scar tissue is better known as a posterior or retro-calcaneal bone spur. There are a few conservative treatments for Achilles bone spurs which involve using orthotics and physical therapy. These conservative measures are intended to ease the tendon tension and alleviate pain in the heel, but even with these treatments, the bone spurs can continue to grow causing the need for surgical care. 

Procedure Details: Pre, During & Post Surgery Expectations

Prior to diagnosis, a podiatrist will perform an initial examination to determine the type of injury a patient is facing. This diagnosis will likely include a physical exam and discussion on the cause of injury. A medical professional will examine the ankle and calf muscles, assess their ability to move in varying directions, and determine how they respond to pressure. X-rays and sometimes an MRI or ultrasound are obtained to determine the severity of the injury. If you or someone you know are experiencing pain, stiffness, thickening of the tendon, and/or bone spur formations, it is highly advised to reach out to your Podiatrist. 

Prior to the surgery beginning, the patient will be administered general anesthetic and local anesthetic, as well as antibiotics intravenously. The patient is then carefully placed on a table to allow the medical professional to have access to the back of the heel. A vertical incision will be made, so the tendon can be exposed. The tendon is then removed off the heel bone to access the back of heel bone to remove the bone spurs. The tendon is then re-attached to the heel bone with bone anchors. Once the bone anchors have been put in, strong stitches may be placed in to help hold the tendon in place. 

When the surgery is completed, a short leg cast is applied to the foot for protection. Patients are prescribed a removable boot  as well as prescription pain relief medication. After 4-6 weeks, the cast and sutures are removed and the patient will be placed into a walking boot. Physical Therapy is a possibility after surgery to help facilitate a quicker return to normal activities.

Benefits and Risk Factors

Like every surgery, there are a multitude of benefits and risk factors to consider before proceeding with surgery. Some benefits can include pain relief, reduced swelling, and an overall feeling of comfort. With surgery, there can be a few risk factors that for the most part can be avoided with proper aftercare. Those risk factors include infection, nerve damage, stiffness, swelling, bleeding, pain, and recurrence. If you consider getting this procedure, speak with your Podiatrist to learn more about all the benefits and risk factors associated with the surgery. 

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