Michigan foot and ankle surgeon says new procedures, techniques speeding patients’ recoveries
(Warren, MI) Many Achilles tendon surgery patients in Tri-county Michigan are getting back on their feet faster, thanks to new procedures and techniques. You hear of many professional athletes suffering with Achilles tendon ruptures and need for Achilles tendon surgery. Most recently, former Detroit Pistons MVP and All-star professional basketball player, Chauncey Billups, suffered an Achilles tendon rupture playing with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Anthony Weinert, DPM, FACFAS, a foot and ankle surgeon with offices in Warren and Troy, Michigan, says the introduction of tissue graft products, bone anchors, radio frequency treatments and new arthroscopic procedures provide patients with less invasive treatments and speedier recovery times.
“These surgical advances will shorten recovery times for many patients, allowing them to get back to their jobs and active lifestyles in less time,” says Weinert.
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone in the back of the leg and facilitates walking. The most common Achilles condition is tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon. Dr. Weinert says most tendonitis cases can be successfully treated with non-surgical methods such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.
But some tendonitis patients develop scar tissue on the tendon, or their tendon fibers weaken and develop microscopic tears, a condition called Achilles tendonosis. Fixing these problems may require surgery and weeks to months of recovery.
Dr. Weinert says recently-introduced radio frequency technology can shorten recovery time for some patients by using radio waves to stimulate healing in the tendon. The procedure requires smaller incisions to insert the wand-like radio frequency device. Smaller incisions mean less damage to skin and muscle, less pain, and lower risk of surgical infections. Patients recover faster.
Overuse, especially in athletes, can cause the Achilles tendon to tighten and pull so hard on the heel bone that a bone spur, or bump, develops. Shoes can rub against the spur and cause pain. In addition, a painful fluid-filled sac called a bursa can develop between the heel bone and the tendon. Traditionally, correcting this tightness involved cutting the tendon, removing the bone spur or bursa, and then reattaching the tendon.
According to Dr. Weinert, new arthroscopic techniques can provide a minimally invasive option to removing bone spurs and bursas without significant damage to the Achilles tendon. When the tendon does have to be surgically detached, new bone anchor constructs (screws that are drilled into the heel bone to secure the tendon and tissues) can reattach the tendon, minimizing the chance of a potentially painful knot developing on the back of the heel.
Achilles tendon ruptures are the most serious Achilles injuries. Most patients require surgery to decrease the likelihood of a re-rupture. Various techniques are available, and increasingly may include tissue grafts used as a bridge to link the detached tendon lengths. The graft provides a scaffold on which new tissue grows, increases the overall strength of the repair, and is usually absorbed by the body within a year.
Dr. Weinert is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) and is board certified in foot and ankle surgery. For more reliable information on Achilles tendon problems, you can go to ACFAS consumer Website at www.foothealthfacts.org or to Dr. Weinerts office website at: www.stopfeetpainfast.com If any questions or to contact Dr. Weinert feel free to contact him at: 586-751-3338 (Warren) or 248-362-3338.