The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous tendon through which the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are inserted into the heel. When contracted, these muscles pull on the Achilles tendon, helping you rise on your toes, and practically extending your ankle and foot. This strong group of muscles will help you when you sprint, jump or climb stairs, practically propelling the body forward. Several different problems can occur in the Achilles tendon, the most serious being the rupture of the Achilles tendon.
The treatment was and still is quite controversial, with many authors comparing the results obtained through orthopedic treatment with the surgical results. It is interesting that the results obtained with orthopedic treatment are similar to those obtained with surgical treatment, in the case of an incomplete rupture. In the case of surgical treatment, the recurrence rate is much lower. Surgery is recommended as the main method of treatment.
How Much Does Achilles Tendon Surgery Cost?
The cost of Achilles tendon surgery is influenced by some factors such as the severity of the tear/rupture, the hospital you choose, your geographical location, the surgical procedure that is used, the surgeon who performs the surgery, and the type of anesthetic that is used. In order to decide if you have a complete tear or a partial tear, a physician will need to take x-rays.
In case you don’t have health insurance, you should be prepared to spend anywhere between $11,000 and $33,000 for an Achilles tendon surgery, including the surgeon fees and the hospital stay.
On the other hand, if you have health insurance, you will be responsible only for your deductibles and co-pays. Most probably, your insurance company will cover the costs of this surgery if this is deemed necessary.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, the cost of a same-day surgery at a local hospital is around $650, while for an overnight stay you will have pay anywhere between $950 and $1,500.
Achilles tendon surgery details
Currently, surgical treatment is considered to provide the best functional outcome in active and athletic patients who have suffered a complete acute rupture of the Achilles tendon. The results are much better when the intervention takes place shortly after the injury. The surgery involves a special suturing technique, which uses a material to strengthen and rebuild the tendon.
The surgery is performed under total anesthesia or spinal anesthesia, often supplemented with local anesthesia to reduce pain. Many different interventions have been described for the reconstruction of the Achilles tendon, but for a chronic rupture, the doctor will usually incline in favor of a tendon elongation surgery with tendon transposition. An incision is made above the Achilles tendon and sometimes another incision in the arch of the foot.
Most patients remain hospitalized for 1-2 days after surgery. You will temporarily wear a cast, and most of the time you will be first advised to stand on crutches. Occasionally you will be allowed to put weight on your leg after a few days. Post-surgery recovery is a very important part of treatment and lasts about 12 weeks.
Sometimes it is possible to recover without surgery in the case of chronic Achilles tendon injuries. In this case, a foot-splint (AFO) can be made, that can be worn in any shoe, which will provide additional stability to the ankle. Alternatively, high shoes, over the ankle can be worn, or special changes can be made to the shoes. However, in most cases the weakness caused by the rupture of the Achilles tendon is unbearable.
What are the extra costs?
The hospital stay is not included in the cost of the surgery itself. So, you should plan on spending more than $1,000 just for one night’s stay.
In case the surgery appears as a result of an impromptu injury, you will have to pay the emergency room fees. The cost of an emergency room visit starts at around $550.
As you will need anesthesia for this surgery, this will come at an additional cost which will be anywhere between $850 and $2,200.
You will need physical and rehab therapy for a minimum of 8 to 16 weeks prior to your surgery. In case you don’t have health insurance, you will have to pay anywhere between $120 and $220 for a rehab session. Depending on your conditions, you may need 12 months of physical therapy to see considerable results.
In order to ensure that the healing process is on its path, you will have to make some follow-up visits to your doctor. So, the doctor fees are another extra cost to consider.
Important things to consider
80% of Achilles tendon ruptures occur as a result of playing sports with the ball or racket and athletics. And half of them appear during basketball games. In the case of these athletes, the risk of injury increases because the game involves sudden acceleration, repeated stop-start or push-up movements, falling from heights, and rapid changes of direction.
At the moment of the acute rupture of the tendon, the patient feels a strong blow to the heel and can hear a crack. There is a sharp pain and their walking will be affected, from limping to not being able to put their foot on the ground, push in that foot, or stand. The diagnosis is made after the clinical examination and can be completed with a soft tissue ultrasound or an MRI examination.
Once the Achilles tendon is broken, it will never be able to fully recover. For example, in the case of American professional athletes, a third of American football players in the National Football League (NFL) and NBA basketball players who suffered a complete rupture of the Achilles tendon did not return to play, and in the case of those who did, it took a year of recovery to play competitively again.
How can I save money?
Surgery may not be necessary for all situations, and you might only need a simple rehab stint to improve your tendon strength. This involves casting the foot and recasting it every week. The rupture rate is 10% to 30% with this procedure. Make sure you talk with your doctor about the non-surgical options.
If you don’t have health insurance, take into consideration checking with foreign countries. For example, there are many countries like India where the cost of Achilles tendon surgery is 60% lower. Though make extensive research before deciding if this is the right option for you.