Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Learning To Walk Again After Achilles Tendon Reattachment: How Your Orthopedic Doctor Can Help

by Stephen Silva

The Achilles tendons are the stretchy bands of tissue which connect your calf muscles to the backs and bottoms of your heels. When these tendons are injured, you will need immediate surgery and lots of followup visits with an orthopedic doctor. The doctor will help you walk again, and your treatment plan will involve one or more of the following.

Leg Braces or Inflatable Air Casts

In some people, the simplest movement, such as landing on your feet after a jump shot in basketball, can cause these tendons to snap. When that occurs, you are completely unable to walk because the tendons no longer control the calf muscles nor the up and down movement of your feet. After surgery, your lower legs will have to be immobilized until the reattached tendons heal. Your doctor will either use some leg braces to position the heels, ankles and lower legs or inflatable air casts.

Inflatable air casts help in the healing process by:

  • Immobilizing the injured areas
  • Adding a cushion of air around the injury, thereby making it a little less painful
  • Allowing you to gradually add weight-bearing exercises and not be in extreme pain when you do
  • Allowing your orthopedic doctor to increase or decrease the amount of air in the inflatable cast as your injuries heal

Physical Therapy

Undoubtedly, anyone who has ever had Achilles tendon injuries has to have physical therapy. The tendons have to stretch slowly and carefully and the calf muscles have to reacquaint themselves with the control they have over the movement of your feet. Almost all of the physical therapy you will receive will be under your doctor's or your therapist's care in the office. The rest of your therapy may be up to you if your doctor or therapist decides to assign specific exercises for you to do at home.

Supportive Footwear

As your doctor eases you back into walking, he or she may also prescribe supportive footwear in the form of orthopedic socks and/or orthopedic shoes. Since it could take up to a year for you to fully regain your ability to walk and for your Achilles tendons to heal, the supportive footwear helps keep your feet and lower legs in perfect alignment while providing good circulation around the injuries. If and when these products are prescribed, it is not a suggestion or recommendation but a necessity on which you follow through if you expect to ever move properly again.

For more information, contact Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester or a similar organization.