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Achilles & Ankle Tendon Surgery at Our Los Angeles Center

Tendons and Your Ankle

Your tendons are a type of connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. In the case of your ankles, there are two main tendon groups. The Achilles tendon is the tendon that connects your calf muscles to your ankle bone. The peroneal tendons connect the muscles in your lower leg to the outer portion of your ankle, helping to provide stability.

Both tendon types can be loosened or torn, either partially or completely. Certain risk factors make you more likely to experience these tendon tear types. These include:

  • History of steroid injections around the ankle
  • Being older than age 35
  • Medical conditions such as gout or hyperparathyroidism
  • Taking fluoroquinolone medications, such as ciprofloxacin or levoflaxacin
  • Being a “weekend warrior,” or a person who exercises only on the weekends, causing greater strain to the body

 

Some factors related to tendon rupture may be beyond your control, such as falling from a great height or stepping into a hole. Men are five times more likely to experience an ankle tendon rupture than women, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ankle sprains are another cause of a ruptured tendon.

In some instances, tendon rupture does not cause any symptoms. However, you can experience symptoms including:

  • Difficulty standing on the toes of your injured leg
  • Inability to “push off” with your injured foot
  • Popping or snapping with activity that may be when the tear occurred
  • Severe pain and swelling, especially at your heel

 

Surgery is not always recommended as a treatment option for a tendon tear. However, if you continue to experience pain following an injury or lose functional ability in the ankle, arthroscopic tendon repair may be the best option for you. Also, failing to repair the injured tendon increases the likelihood you will re-injure the tendon.

Ankle Arthroscopic Tendon Repair

Unlike ligaments, which connect bone to bone, your tendons tend to be more vascular, meaning they have greater blood flow. This allows for better healing and means your surgeon can repair a torn tendon by stitching the torn parts back together and allowing them to re-grow.

Surgeons at miVIP Surgery Centers use arthroscopic or minimally invasive surgical approaches to repair your tendon during surgery. Arthroscopic refers to the camera used on the end of a thin, flexible tube that allows your physician to visualize inside your ankle and pinpoint the damaged portions. The approach utilized depends upon the area where your injury occurred. If you have a peroneal tendon rupture, your surgeon will remove the damaged tendon portion and sew the two tendons together, strengthening them and providing stability. If you require an Achilles tendon repair, your surgeon will either sew the damaged tendon back together or will use nearby tendons to anchor and strengthen the Achilles tendon.

In some instances, your surgeon also will shave off pieces of bone to make room for the newly sewn tendon.

Ankle Arthroscopic Surgery Risks and Rewards

The smaller incisions associated with ankle arthroscopic surgery is associated with reduced risk for post-surgical infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additional benefits of an arthroscopic approach include:

  • Smaller surgical scar
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Less bleeding

 

Your surgeon will likely recommend physical therapy following surgery to help restore flexibility and strength to your ankle joint. This program can take several weeks with a full recovery expected within four to six months.

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