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Achilles Tendon Injury: Surgery or Immobilization

Topic Overview

If you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, instead of having surgery you may use a cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that will keep your lower leg from moving (immobilization). When immobilized over a period of months, the Achilles tendon can slowly reattach and heal.

Things to think about

Immobilization is a wise treatment choice for some people, but not for others. When deciding on treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture, consider your level of activity, your need for leg strength at home or at work, and your age and medical condition.

Think about the following when deciding whether surgery or immobilization is best for you:

  • There are no surgical risks associated with immobilization.
  • After immobilization, an Achilles tendon may be more likely to rupture again than it would be after surgical treatment. But if you are not physically active in sports, at home, or at work, then your risk of rerupturing the tendon is minimal, and immobilization may be sufficient treatment for your needs.
  • After immobilization, your leg may be more likely to be weaker than after surgery.
  • The recovery period after immobilization is about the same (as long as 6 months) as after surgery.

Immobilization is usually followed by a rehabilitation program, which may include stretching, exercising, and physical therapy.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
Last Revised January 3, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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Achilles Tendon Injury: Surgery or Immobilization