Health blog

Should nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery worry you?

March 3rd, 2023

Feeling nerve pain following an Achilles tendon surgery does happen. But, physical therapists can help you address and manage nerve pain successfully if you do develop it following surgery.

Achilles tendon surgery is a major procedure. The surgery is most often performed on athletes and other active individuals, as these groups are most likely to damage the tendon. The Achilles tendon is a fibrous cord in the leg just above the heel. The outcome of Achilles tendon surgery is usually positive, bringing significant improvements in movement and overall quality of life. However, some patients can experience post-surgical nerve pain after their Achilles tendon surgery.

Your nerve pain can have many causes. There are different degrees of nerve pain as well. You should consult a medical professional if you experience high levels of nerve pain over an extended period of time.

What is nerve pain?

Nerve pain, sometimes called neuropathic pain, is usually described as a burning sensation. It is a type of chronic pain caused by damage or injury to your nerves. Your nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery may involve:

  • Burning.
  • Tingling.
  • Electric pinching sensations. 

It can also occur in different areas of the body. Even though your Achilles tendon is part of your lower leg, after surgery you may feel nerve pain running throughout your foot and up your leg.

What causes nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery?

A few factors may contribute to nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery. Though in some cases the nerve pain is caused by the surgery, it is usually a symptom from the initial injury in the Achilles tendon. Knowing the causes can help you to reduce nerve pain through targeted post-surgical rehab

  • Swelling — Swelling often occurs after surgery. When certain muscles and tissue become swollen, they can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain.
  • Scar tissue — Much like swelling, new scar tissue growth can push things against each other inside your foot after Achilles tendon surgery. This can cause pain by compressing nerves.
  • Nerve entrapment —Nerve entrapment is also called entrapment neuropathy. This happens when a nerve gets trapped between two other parts in the body. This might happen after Achilles tendon surgery because injuries can shift the placement of bones and ligaments. When this happens, the structures trapping the nerve will rub against it every time you move, leading to nerve pain.

Though nerve pain can come from different sources, the treatment methods are not likely to change much. The most effective treatment options can deal with nerve pain at the source, rather than just treating the symptom.

How to manage nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery

If you are experiencing nerve pain, you probably want to find a solution as soon as possible. Nerve pain can come at unexpected times, distracting from daily work and activities. The feeling of nerve pain can be intense too, making it difficult to just ignore. Fortunately, there are a few different steps you can take to manage your pain.

  • Use pain medication — Over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications may help provide relief for your nerve pain. Your doctor or physical therapy specialist can help you determine the best option to meet your individual needs. While medication can provide temporary relief, though, it does not treat the underlying cause in the same way other solutions can.
  • Try an orthotic support — A wearable brace for your foot, like an Achilles tendon strap, can help with pain relief. Because it keeps your foot stable, it can reduce the internal rubbing and pinching that leads to nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery.
  • Attend physical therapy — Physical therapy can help reduce swelling and improve overall mobility in your foot and ankle after surgery. It can also minimize scar tissue, limiting future causes of nerve pain. A benefit of having a physical therapist is that they can adapt to your individual needs. Working with your input, a physical therapy specialist can design a targeted exercise program. This can include a range of activities. Treatment options may also include stretches, manual therapy and even aquatic therapy.

Though there are several different options, one of the most popular treatment methods for nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery is physical therapy. Beyond just reducing pain, physical therapy can help you regain mobility and flexibility in your Achilles tendon. This can also help prevent future injury by improving overall stability in your foot and ankle.

Rehab Access Physical Therapy can address nerve pain after Achilles tendon surgery

Are you ready to find a solution to your nerve pain? At Rehab Access, our highly trained physical therapists can help you address your pain while also helping you continue your recovery. You can book a free screening anytime, where our physical therapy specialists can listen to your problems and offer a comprehensive treatment plan made for you.

Contact our team today to learn more about the help we can offer for post-surgical pain or to schedule an initial appointment.