Understanding Achilles Tendon Repair Surgery

The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous cord in the back of your lower leg. It connects the muscles of your calf to your heel. It’s the largest tendon in your body. It helps you walk, run, and jump. Achilles tendon repair surgery is a type of surgery to fix a damaged Achilles tendon.

Why is Achilles tendon repair surgery done?

The surgery is often needed if you have damage from a tear or rupture from a sudden (acute) injury. Or the damage may be from overuse, wear and tear, or from other conditions. This long-term (chronic) injury is also known as tendonitis or tendinopathy.

How is Achilles tendon repair surgery done?

An Achilles tendon repair is done by an orthopedic surgeon. This is a surgeon who treats bone, muscle, joint, and tendon problems. The surgery can be done in several ways. The surgeon will make a cut (incision) through the skin and muscle in the back of your calf. If you have minimally invasive surgery, the surgeon will make several smaller incisions instead of one large one. Your surgeon will make an incision through the sheath or covering of the Achilles tendon.  If the tendon is damaged, the surgeon may remove the damaged part and repair the rest of it. If you have severe damage, the surgeon may use a muscle or tendon from your calf, ankle, or foot for the repair.

What are the risks of Achilles tendon repair surgery?

Every surgery has risks. Risks of Achilles tendon repair include:

  • Bleeding

  • Nerve damage

  • Infection

  • Blood clots

  • Wound healing problems

  • Calf weakness

  • Complications from anesthesia

  • Continued pain in your foot and ankle

Risks depend on factors such as your age, your overall health, and the type of surgery. They also depend on the shape of your foot, muscles, and tendons. Ask your healthcare provider which risks apply most to you. Talk with him or her about any concerns you have.