Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. While this tendon is capable of withstanding great stresses from running and jumping, a ruptured tendon, which results in the separation of the tendon fibers, can no longer perform its normal function. A ruptured Achilles tendon may keep you away from work for several weeks, and it could take anywhere from four months to a year before you are able to return to your normal athletic training routine.
How Long Does It Take A Ruptured Achilles Tendon to Heal?
If you have surgery for your Achilles tendon rupture, you may go through a recovery process that looks something like this…
- First Two Weeks: No weight-bearing activity; constantly immobilized; leg kept above the heart to reduce swelling; therapies for pain and inflammation.
- Two to Four Weeks: Continue controlling pain and swelling; still not bearing weight; begin working on some strength training while wearing a boot.
- Four to Six Weeks: Gradually move to bearing full weight on foot; continue exercises and strength training begun in previous weeks.
- Six to Eight Weeks: Slowly increase stretching and strengthening.
- Eight to Ten Weeks: Continue to increase stretching and strengthening, and slowly come out of the boot; work on normalizing gait.
- Ten to Twelve Weeks: Begin treadmill or elliptical training, slowly increasing intensity.
- Three to six months: Reintroduce cardiovascular activity that involves the Achilles tendon, such as running in water, which may lead to normal running.
- Six months: See your Houston orthopedic doctor for a follow-up examination, which may result in a return-to-play clearance.
Keep in mind that this recovery timeline is very rough and not indicative of every patient’s operative experience. Non-operative treatment of a complete Achilles tendon rupture will not allow a return to normal activity without a deficit in strength and function. Your physician and physical therapy providers will work with you at your own pace in developing a plan that’s right for you.
Should I Have Surgery or Not?
Orthopedic doctors sometimes have differing opinions about whether or not surgery is appropriate for treating a ruptured Achilles tendon. The decision may also have to do with the extent and location of the Achilles tendon tear. Surgery has benefits in that it reduces the risk of another rupture; but there are also disadvantages in the risks that accompany any type of surgery.
Ultimately, the decision to have surgery for an Achilles tendon rupture will be up to you and your doctor. In many cases, surgery is used in patients who are younger or very active in sports. However, this is a conversation you must have with your Houston orthopedic doctor, as the particulars of your situation are a major influencing factor.
Schedule With a Houston Orthopedic Doctor
To learn more about Achilles tendon recovery, talk to your doctor or schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546, or schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.