Treatment for Achilles tendinopathy
includes not only rest to allow the tendon to heal but also ways to increase strength and
flexibility to prevent further injury. Treatment for an Achilles tendon
rupture includes surgery or a cast, splint, brace,
walking boot, or other device that will keep your lower leg from moving
(immobilization). Early treatment usually results in better healing.
Achilles tendinopathy, your doctor will
advise you to:
- Rest the lower leg and foot, avoiding any
hard or intense activity for 6 to 12 weeks and until symptoms go
- Switch or modify sports or other activities that may have
caused the tendinopathy.
- Wear well-cushioned shoes, heel pads, or
other orthotics if they help relieve
- Reduce pain by using ice or taking
over-the-counter pain relievers, such as
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as
directed. An example of acetaminophen is Tylenol. NSAIDS include
ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and aspirin. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger
than 20 because of the risk of
stretch the Achilles tendon area and do
general stretches each day and before running or other strenuous activity.
- Follow any
physical therapy that your doctor has
prescribed, including stretching and strengthening exercises, massage, heat, or
Your doctor may suggest that you wear a
night brace to keep your foot flexed, if your Achilles tendon shortens and
stiffens while you sleep.
If you continue to have pain or
stiffness in the ankle area, your doctor may prescribe a walking
boot or other device for 4 to 6 weeks to keep your lower leg and foot from
moving and allow the tendon to heal.
If you still have Achilles
tendon pain after more than 6 months of consistent treatment and rest, you
might need to consider surgery.
Achilles tendon rupture
Treatment for an Achilles
tendon rupture includes:
Surgery followed by
rehabilitation (rehab). This is the most common treatment. It
reattaches the torn ends of the tendon and can be done through one large
incision (open surgery) or several smaller incisions
Immobilizing your leg followed by
rehab. This prevents movement of the lower
leg and ankle and allows the ends of the Achilles tendon to reattach and heal.
A cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device may be used to do
What To Think About
Do not smoke or use other tobacco
products. Smoking slows healing because it decreases blood supply and delays
If you have an Achilles tendon rupture, your
decision about whether to have surgery will depend in part on your:
- Attitude toward reinjury and complications.
Immobilization using a cast or similar device is more likely than surgery to
result in another rupture but is less likely to result in complications, such
as wound infection.3
- Level of activity. If
you are very active in sports or have a job that requires leg strength and you
want your leg to be as strong as it was before your injury, you may consider
- Age. If you are an older adult who does not do
activities that may result in another rupture and who does not want the added
risk of surgery, you may prefer using a cast or similar
- Medical condition. If you have another medical
diabetes or heart or lung disease-that raises the
risks associated with surgery, you may prefer using a cast or similar
- Time of injury. Surgery is generally recommended if the rupture
is more than 2 weeks old.
Achilles Tendon Rupture: Should I Have Surgery?