What are some reasons that Achilles tendon lengthening would need to be done in children?


Quick Answer

The most common need for Achilles tendon lengthening in children is to help with foot position and flexibility in patients with cerebral palsy, says WebMD. Sometimes, tendon lengthening helps to decrease pressure on the front part of the foot in the event of sores or uclers.

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Full Answer

Achilles tendon lengthening helps to relieve stress on a tight Achilles tendon, improves ankle joint mobility and allows a patient to place the foot flat on the floor while walking, says the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society. In children with cerebral palsy, tendon lengthening helps them to keep heels on the ground while walking and also to keep knees straight, says the Children's Hospital of St. Louis.

There are relatively noninvasive Achilles tendon lengthening methods that allow for shorter healing time, notes the Children's Hospital of St. Louis. To lengthen the Achilles tendon, a doctor makes three very small incisions and employs a feathering technique to the muscle, rather than cutting the entire tendon. The incisions are each closed with a single stitch after the surgery. The patient's legs require casts below the knees for approximately three to four weeks.

Children can walk and participate in physical therapy while wearing the casts. Physical therapy is intensive, the Children's Hospital of St. Louis advises, with doctors recommending four or five sessions each week for the first six months after surgery and three to four each week for the rest of the year. Doctors also recommend two to four physical therapy sessions each week during the second year after surgery to maintain mobility, flexibility and strength.

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