Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
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Early motion for Achilles tendon ruptures: is surgery important? A randomized, prospective study.

BACKGROUND: Comparisons of surgically and nonsurgically treated Achilles tendon ruptures have demonstrated that those treated with surgery allow earlier motion and tend to show superior results. However, early motion enhances tendon healing with or without surgery and may be the important factor in optimizing outcomes in patients with Achilles tendon rupture.

HYPOTHESIS: There is no difference in the outcome of acute Achilles tendon rupture treated nonoperatively or operatively if controlled early motion is allowed as part of the rehabilitation program.

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized, controlled clinical trial; Level of evidence, 1.

METHODS: Patients with acute rupture of the Achilles tendon were randomized to surgery or no surgery, with both groups receiving early motion controlled in a removable orthosis, progressing to full weightbearing at 8 weeks from treatment. Both groups were followed prospectively for 12 months with measurements of range of motion, calf circumference, and the Musculoskeletal Functional Assessment Instrument (MFAI) outcome score; any reruptures and any complications were noted.

RESULTS: Both groups were comparable for age and sex. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups in plantar flexion, dorsiflexion, calf circumference, or the MFAI scores measured at 2, 8, 12, 26, or 52 weeks. One patient in each group was noncompliant and required surgical rerepair of the tendon. There were no differences in complications and a similar low number of reruptures in both groups.

CONCLUSION: This study supports early motion as an acceptable form of rehabilitation in both surgically and nonsurgically treated patients with comparable functional results and a low rerupture rate. There appears to be no difference between the 2 groups, suggesting that controlled early motion is the important part of treatment of ruptured Achilles tendon.

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