Heel Cord Lengthening/Achilles Tendon Lengthening

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What Is Heel Cord Lengthening/Achilles Tendon Lengthening?

A heel cord lengthening or achilles tendon lengthening surgery helps ease limited motion in a child’s joints. Heel cord lengthening can help improve the position of your child’s foot.

This surgery is suggested when the health care provider believes that your child’s foot or feet may become flatter.

If left untreated, the condition could need surgery to fix the bones. Also, if left untreated, a bunion is more likely to form.

How Is Surgery for Heel Cord Lengthening/Achilles Tendon Lengthening Performed?

This surgery usually is done as an outpatient, and your child can go home the same day. The surgery is done through small incisions over the back of the lower leg. After the surgery, your child will be in a cast from the toes to the knee.

Your child can stand and walk in the cast immediately after surgery. He or she should have a removable knee brace to wear over the cast and a well-fitting ankle-foot brace ready to wear after cast removal. The ankle-foot brace can prevent flat feet from happening again and helps prevent soreness after cast removal. The ankle-foot brace must be worn about 20 to 24 hours. Your doctor will adjust time in the brace down to at least 16 hours per day (including wearing it at night).

Follow-Up Care

After surgery, your child will need physical therapy twice a week for two months, then weekly for two months, then twice a month. This should be scheduled to begin within a week or two of the surgery, at the latest. Parents will need to make the physical therapy appointments.

Your child may need to sleep in an ankle-foot brace and a knee immobilizer (at least one at a time) for at least a couple of years. They may be required for life to prevent the ankles and knees from tightening up again.

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