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Achilles tendon rupture and repair

Treatment for injuries to your Achilles tendon

Man holding his ruptured Achilles tendon which is need of repair
Achilles tendon repair is a procedure used when you have ruptured your Achilles tendon. This is a strong, fibrous cord in your lower leg that connects the muscles in the back of your calf with your heel bone. It is the largest tendon in your body and plays a crucial role in walking, jumping, and running. The tendon can become either totally ruptured or partially torn, usually due to a sudden force or intense twisting motion while participating in high-intensity physical activities like football or sprinting.

Private Achilles tendon repair surgery involves your surgeon stitching your Achilles tendon back together. In cases where the rupture is extremely severe, they may have to replace part or all of your Achilles tendon with a tendon from elsewhere in your foot. Your consultant will most likely start by suggesting a range of non-surgical treatments (physiotherapy, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, etc) before suggesting you have Achilles tendon repair surgery.

To learn more about Achilles tendon repair surgery, or other forms of foot surgery, our experienced consultants are here to help you. Call 0141 300 5009 or book online today and you could have your initial consultation within 48 hours.

In this page, we will go through everything you need to know about Achilles tendon repair surgery, including causes of Achilles tendon damage, what surgery involves, and your recovery timeline.

The cost of Achilles tendon repair with Circle Health Group depends on a variety of factors, including the type of surgery you have and where you have it. Your healthcare team will ensure you know the cost of your treatment at every stage of your journey with them, including information on how and when to pay it.

Fixed-price packages

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Spread the cost of your payment

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

Private health insurance

If you have private health insurance, your treatment will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out more information on this.

If you have any questions about our fixed-price packages and flexible payment options, you can speak to a friendly member of our advisory team on 0141 300 5009

Your Achilles tendon withstands high levels of stress during everyday activities such as walking or standing on your toes to reach something. It helps you point your foot downward, rise on your toes, and push off your foot as you walk or run. As a result, your Achilles tendon is an excessively used and incredibly important part of your body when playing sports or doing other forms of activity. Any physical exercise that requires jumping, sprinting, or turning at high speed (football, rugby, basketball, etc) will put strain on your Achilles tendon.

A ruptured Achilles tendon tends to occur because of a sudden stress on the area, which may occur because of a rapid twisting motion, falling from a height, or stepping in a hole while running. When this happens, your Achilles tendon may make a 'pop' sound. You may then experience some of these following symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling near your heel
  • Feeling like you've been kicked in your calf
  • Being unable to bend your foot downwards or push off your injured foot when walking or trying to run
  • Being unable to stand on the toes of your injured foot

Potential risk factors for Achilles tendon rupture

Although an Achilles tendon rupture can happen to anyone, there are some factors that increase your likelihood of picking up this injury, such as:

  • Your age (peak age for Achilles tendon rupture is between 30 and 40)
  • Your sex (Achilles tendon ruptures occur five times more often in men compared to women)
  • Doing activities that involve running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops
  • Obesity
  • Steroid injections (injecting steroids into your ankle joint can weaken your Achilles tendon)
  • Doing more exercise than you're used to or rapidly increasing the amount you do
  • Having certain health conditions, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or diabetes
  • Having Achilles tendinopathy (your tendon degenerates, usually due to overuse or old age)

At your initial consultation, you will be asked about your Achilles tendon injury. Your consultant will gather information such as when the injury occurred, what your symptoms are, what physical activities you do, and whether you heard a popping sound when the injury occurred. They will also ask if you've had any treatment for the issue already.

They will then gently conduct a physical examination, which should enable them to confirm if you have ruptured your Achilles tendon. This examination will start with your consultant checking your lower leg for tenderness and swelling. It may be that they find a gap in your tendon, which is a sign that your tendon has ruptured completely. Your consultant might also ask you to kneel on a chair or lie on your stomach with your feet hanging over the end of the treatment table, ahead of squeezing your calf muscle to see if your foot automatically flexes. If it doesn't, there is a strong chance that you have ruptured your Achilles tendon.

Once your consultant has confirmed that you have a ruptured Achilles tendon, they may want to do an MRI scan. This test uses powerful magnetic waves to produce clear images of the soft tissue in your foot, including your Achilles tendon. It allows your consultant to clearly see the severity of the damage to your tendon, which will in turn influence the kind of treatment you have.

In cases where you have only partially torn your Achilles tendon, or if you haven't had any treatment for the issue before, your consultant may suggest some non-surgical treatments first. These typically include:


Your consultant will start off by asking you to keep your ankle from moving for the first few weeks after your initial consultation. This may mean you have to wear a special boot or leg cast, with your foot flexed down. Combined with anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) and using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), this treatment can ease the swelling around your Achilles tendon and reduce your symptoms.


Although lessening your activity is particularly important for the first few weeks after seeing your consultant, there are certain stretches and exercises you can do that can strengthen your calf muscles. Doing this takes the pressure off your Achilles tendon and can bring down your levels of discomfort. You have a greater chance of recovering fully if you start rehabilitation as soon as possible after your injury.

If conservative treatments don't work, or your Achilles tendon tear is particularly severe, your consultant may recommend Achilles tendon rupture surgery. They will walk you through everything you'll need to do to prepare for your procedure prior to arranging your visit to hospital.

Stock up on supplies

For the first week after your Achilles tendon rupture surgery, you'll need to keep your foot elevated and rest as much as possible, which means frequent trips to the supermarket won't be possible. So, ahead of coming to the hospital, be sure to stock up on any supplies you'll need while you recover. Should you need anything else during this period, ask a family member or friend to grab it for you.

Make your home recovery friendly

You'll need to rest your leg during the early stages of your recovery following surgery, so set up your recovery space on the ground floor, if this is applicable to you. You should also consider removing any potential tripping hazards, such as loose flooring, furniture, or general mess.

Stop smoking

If you are a smoker, your consultant may recommend that you stop two weeks before your operation. This is because smokers have an increased chance of heart or breathing difficulties during and after surgery. Smoking after your Achilles tendon repair surgery may also hamper the extent to which you recover.

Speak to your consultant about medication

Your consultant will ask about what medications you are taking before arranging your surgery. If you are on any blood thinners, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatories, or warfarin, there is an increased chance of unwanted bleeding both during and after your procedure, so you may be asked to stop taking these for two weeks.

Food and drink

Like with any operation involving general anaesthetic, you'll need to avoid eating or drinking anything (apart from small sips of water) after midnight on the day of your procedure. Please also refrain from alcohol for 48 hours before your Achilles tendon repair surgery.

Your Achilles tendon repair surgery will most likely be performed under general anaesthetic, which means you'll be asleep for the full procedure and won't feel anything. If you prefer, spinal anaesthesia, which numbs your body from the waist down, can also be used. Your anaesthetist will speak to you about different anaesthesia options ahead of your procedure.

Achilles tendon repair surgery usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes, and is done on an outpatient basis. You'll be able to go home on the same day as your procedure. There are a number of different ways for your surgeon to repair your Achilles tendon rupture. The exact form of surgery you receive will depend on the severity of your injury. In most cases, surgeons use a method called an open repair, which typically follows these steps:

  • Your surgeon makes an incision on the back of your lower leg, just above your heel bone, through the protective sheath that surrounds your Achilles tendon
  • Once your Achilles tendon has been exposed, your surgeon, using special surgical instruments, will either remove parts of your ruptured tendon, repair the rip in your tendon, or find the two ends of your tendon and sew them together using sutures
  • Your surgeon may, in cases where your Achilles tendon rupture is severe, remove another tendon from your foot, which is then used to replace either a part or all of your Achilles tendon
  • Once all repairs have been made, your surgeon will close the incision and you'll be transferred to a post-operation recovery room

You should be able to make a return to full activity four to six months after your Achilles tendon repair surgery. Please note that everyone recovers at a different rate; your exact recovery timeline may vary and can depend on a range of factors, such as:

  • The severity of your Achilles tendon rupture
  • Your fitness levels
  • Your everyday activities
  • The nature of your job
  • General health
  • Your age

One day to two weeks after Achilles tendon rupture surgery

If your procedure was done under general anaesthetic, you may feel a bit groggy when you first wake up, but this is usual as your anaesthetic wears off. You will be given some time to rest ahead of going home, with your nurse providing you with pain relief medication whenever needed. Your foot will be placed in a splint after your Achilles tendon repair surgery, and you'll need to use crutches to keep the weight off your leg.

You should avoid putting any weight on your leg for the first couple of weeks. Keep your foot elevated and iced at regular intervals; this will help with swelling. After 10 days, your consultant will remove your stitches and may also replace your splint with a supportive boot, which you'll need to wear for the next six to eight weeks.

Two to six weeks after Achilles tendon rupture surgery

During this period, you'll be able to start putting some weight on your foot again, although full weightbearing usually won't be possible until around six weeks after your procedure. Your physiotherapist will speak to you about some exercises that encourage ankle motion and gradually restores mobility to this area.

If you have a job that doesn't require any standing or walking, like a desk job, you may be able to return to work after around two weeks. Please note that the exact amount of time you'll need to take away from work varies from person to person; speak with your consultant about when it's safe for you to go back to work. You may need to wait for more like three months before you can return to a manual labour job.

Six weeks to four months after Achilles tendon rupture surgery

After six weeks to two months, you should be able to walk in normal shoes without any assistance from crutches. It will take three months for you to return to driving, although this timeframe can be much less if you drive an automatic car and your surgery was on your left foot.

Throughout this timeframe, physiotherapy is key to ensuring you make a full recovery in good time. Your physiotherapist will give you a series of strengthening exercises designed to build muscles around your calf and Achilles tendon, which is important for avoiding future injuries and returning to peak functioning. They will work closely with you to gradually build up the intensity of the exercises you do, eventually getting to a point where you are back to full fitness in around four to six months.

Like with any surgery, complications can sometimes occur, but these are extremely rare. Your consultant will take time to ensure you know about the risks involved with your procedure, along with answering any questions you might have.

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Chest infection
  • Heart attack or stroke

Specific complications of Achilles tendon rupture surgery

  • Nerve damage, causing numbness and a burning sensation
  • Calf weakness
  • Continued pain in your foot and ankle
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Scarring of your Achilles tendon and thickening of surgical scar

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your schedule
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant best matches your needs
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your particular requirements
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams
  • Private ensuite rooms as standards and delicious healthy meals
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included
  • Flexible payment options to help you spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about Achilles tendon rupture surgery, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in January 2023. Next review due January 2026.

  1. Achilles tendon repair, OS Clinic
  2. Achilles tendon rupture, Mayo Clinic
  3. Achilles tendon repair surgery, John Hopkins Medicine
  4. Achilles tendon rupture surgery, FootcareMD
  5. Achilles tendon rupture, Bupa

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