Tammy Maxon: Achilles Tendon Surgery

Thanks to successful surgery by Tudor Tien, MD, Tammy is back on her feet and enjoying her life again.

Damage to the Achilles tendon, which is the tissue that connects the heel to the muscles of the lower leg, can be extremely painful. Such an injury was especially devastating for 49-year-old Tammy Maxon, because working in the restaurant business requires her to stand for long hours. Thanks to successful surgery by Tudor Tien, MD, Tammy is back on her feet and enjoying her life again.

“I was working out on some exercise equipment at the gym when I felt a ‘rip’ at the back of my heel,” Tammy said. “I had an x-ray taken at my family doctor’s office, and it appeared normal. I went back to work but continued to have pain because I had partially torn my Achilles tendon. I had non-surgical treatment on my heel for about 18 months, but it really didn’t help.” After having an MRI, Tammy was diagnosed with a high-grade Achilles tendonosis, caused by the tendon tear and a form of bursistis.

In March of the following year, Tammy slipped and fell at school and reinjured her left ankle. This time, She consulted with Dr. Tien, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle repair. Dr. Tien ordered a new MRI scan, which showed a large rupture of Achilles tendon. tissue.

“He showed me my MRI and explained that a build-up of scar tissue from my first injury had actually made it possible for me to walk when I shouldn’t have been walking,” Tammy said. “He was wonderful in explaining exactly what he planned to do for me in surgery. His confidence gave me confidence, too.”

In an outpatient setting, Dr. Tien performed a complex surgery to cut away damaged tissue and scar tissue. Because of the extent of damage, a tendon was taken from Tammy’s big toe and attached to her heel bone and the remaining potion of her Achilles tendon.

“The special thing about this case is that it was a chronic tear, and the tendon transfer she had is a standard but relatively rare procedure,” said Dr. Tien. “We are very pleased with how well she is doing.”

Tammy’s experience at Henry Ford Allegiance Health was “completely positive,” she said. “Everyone I had contact with was great, and they all explained what they were going to do and why.” 

Following surgery, Tammy progressed through a six-week recovery period, first using a wheelchair, then a crutches and a scooter. “It wasn’t fun, but it was all worth it,” she said. “I had been in pain for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to walk pain-free. It’s wonderful. I am very grateful to Dr. Tien and Henry Ford Allegiance Health,” she said. 

If you are a smoker, it’s important for you to understand that smoking slows recovery and increases the risk of problems. Several weeks prior to surgery, talk with your health care provider if you need help quitting.