A Smarter, Smaller Way to Repair the Achilles

If you're suffering from ankle pain, your Achilles tendon might be to blame.

This tough tissue is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body, and it connects the calf and lower leg to the foot's heel bone. When we walk, jog, dance or use our legs for pretty much anything, this tendon is behind the scenes helping our legs move.

Most Achilles injuries happen when you push off a foot, like when you jump or run. This can cause a range of injuries, from minor swelling and irritation known as tendinitis to a more serious partial tear. In the worst case, the tendon can rupture and disconnect. Injury can happen suddenly or over time.

If your injury is severe enough or persists through nonsurgical treatment like rest, casting or therapy, surgery might help you get back on your feet.

There are two surgery options available, one of which involves making large incisions to repair the tendon, which is about 15 centimeters long. University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon Lauren Newnam, DPM, prefers to keep her incisions small, to just 3 centimeters.

Through this small opening, Dr. Newnam is able to repair torn tendons using anchors that hold the tendon together, allowing it to heal safely.

"Using half the incision size as traditional Achilles surgeries enables our patients to put weight on their recovering leg much sooner and return to normal activity levels faster," says Dr. Newnam. "The wound is also less likely to open up, which means patients can recover with a greater peace of mind."

Along with Achilles tears and ruptures, Dr. Newnam surgically repairs ankle fractures, metatarsal fractures, plantar plate deterioration and many other conditions.