Achilles tendon ruptures are common in jumping and change of direction sports such as basketball and soccer but can happen just from stepping off of a curb or on uneven ground. The tendon that attaches the big muscles in the back of your calf to the heel bone snaps.
Until recently, the sports medicine community has assumed that athletes do better with surgery based on data showing a lower rate of Achilles tendon re-rupture and a better functional outcome than traditional immobilization treatment. New evidence shows that early functional rehabilitation, with early weight-bearing and range of motion exercises, could stimulate tendon repair and reduce re-rupture rates.
Check out this study published in The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery. It was a meta-analysis which reviewed ten published randomized controlled trials with a total of 934 patients. Here’s a quick summary of the results:
- Surgery vs. Traditional – traditional non-surgical treatment had a higher rate of re-rupture in the non-surgical group.
- Surgery vs. Early Functional Rehabilitation – re-rupture rate was no different from surgical treatment in the non-surgical early functional rehabilitation protocol
- Surgery vs. Early Functional Rehabilitation – return to the previous level of sporting activity was no different from surgical treatment in the non-surgical early functional rehabilitation protocol
- Surgery vs. Early Functional Rehabilitation/Traditional – Surgical management had significantly higher rates of other complications including deep infection, adhesions, and sural nerve injury.
It just so happens that you’re reading the blog of a sports chiropractor with additional training in functional movement and rehab.
I can help.
1Zhou K, Song L, Zhang P, Wang C, Wang W. Surgical versus non-surgical methods for acute Achilles tendon rupture: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery 57 (2018) 1191-1199.