If your child's Achilles tendon is not developing as it should, their doctor will recommend having the issue corrected as soon as possible. Because that tendon runs from the calf muscle all the way down to the heel, walking, running, and even standing can become a struggle if it doesn't grow properly. In most cases, Achilles tendon problems will need to be surgically corrected. Before your child goes in for this surgery, you should understand what's involved.
The Basics Of The Surgery
The surgery to correct an Achilles heel development problem can be done in one of two ways. Depending on the condition of the tendon and how much growth is present, the surgeon may loosen the tendon along the entire length without separating it from the leg, then place strategic nicks in the tissue to lengthen it. In other cases, the tendon is completely detached from the leg, stretched and then reattached. Either method can be effective.
The Fundamentals Of Therapy
When the surgery is over, your child's lower leg will be placed in a cast. In most cases, the cast starts at the base of the knee and encompasses the calf and entire foot, down to the toes. Just after surgery, your child will be placed in a physical therapy program at the hospital. There, therapists will help them learn how to move around with the cast. This is an important transition time. Then, the therapist will work with the orthopedist to develop some stretches and basic exercises that you'll have to do with your child at home. These exercises are important for preserving muscle tone and building strength.
After the cast comes off, the therapist will start working on foot flexes that stretch the tendon and other tissue around the ankle. You may be provided with a small transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator to help encourage tissue response. When the foot has healed enough to start learning to walk again, your child will be provided with therapy to help learn the proper heel-to-toe walking movement. This should be practiced extensively until it becomes second nature.
Achilles tendon surgery is challenging for any patient, but, when you're dealing with kids, the recovery can be especially taxing for them. Talk with an orthopedist like those at the Family Medical Clinic about this process so that you can find ways to make things easier and give your child the best chance to succeed.