Question:My 20-year old daughter is a ballet dancer with a professional company. She ruptured her Achilles tendon three days ago. The company doctor is advising surgery, but this will keep her from dancing at least eight to 12 weeks. Are there any other faster ways to treat this?
Nonoperative treatment consists of immobilizing the lower leg with a cast. Some doctors use a cast for four weeks then switch to a removable brace. The brace or orthosis is used for another four weeks. The advantage of the orthosis is that it allows the patient to begin a gradual rehab program sooner.
There is a danger of rerupture with either treatment choice. Open repair is reported to be linked with a lower rate of rerupture. Studies also show surgery results in earlier return of ankle movement after the cast comes off. There are other possible problems with surgery such as infection or poor wound healing.
Either treatment approach is going to take some time for recovery and a return to dance. Ask the doctor to give you more information about your options based on your daughter's condition. The severity of the rupture may make a difference in treatment choice.Richard G. H. Wallace, MCh (Orth), MD, FRCS, et al. Combined Conservative and Orthotic Management of Acute Ruptures of the Achilles Tendon. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Volume 86-A. No. 6. Pp. 1198-1202.
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