Achilles tendon rupture involves damage to the rear part of the lower leg. It typically occurs among individuals who engage in recreational sports, but anyone can be affected.
Once the tendon ruptures, the individual might hear a popping sound followed by an intense ankle pain, usually in the rear part up to the lower leg that can disrupt with the ability to walk normally. In some cases, surgery is required to fix the rupture, but conservative measures are also effective.
What are the indications?
Even though it is likely to have no signs from an Achilles tendon rupture, most might experience the following:
- Pain, possibly intense along with swelling close to the heel region
- Difficulty bending the foot downwards or pushing off the affected leg while walking
- Inability to stand on the toes using the injured leg
- Snapping or popping sound at the time of injury
It is best to see a doctor right away if the individual heard a pop in the heel, particularly if he/she cannot walk normally after.
What are the possible causes?
An Achilles tendon rupture is often due to an abrupt increase in the strain on the Achilles tendon. The usual scenarios include:
- Falls from a height
- Increasing the intensity in sports especially those that include jumping
- Accidentally stepping into a hole
Management of an Achilles tendon rupture
The treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture is often based on the age, activity level and seriousness of the injury. Generally, young and active individuals often opt for surgery to fix a fully ruptured Achilles tendon while older individuals might choose the conservative approach.
- Allowing the affected tendon to rest using crutches
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Application of ice
- Limiting movement during the initial few weeks, usually with a cast, walking boot or heel wedge with the foot flexed downwards.
These conservative measures help avoid the risks linked with surgery such as infection. Nevertheless, there is the possibility for increasing the chances of re-rupture and recovery might take a longer time.
If surgery is performed, it involves the creation of an incision in the rear part of the lower leg and stitching the ruptured tendon. Depending on the overall status of the ruptured tissue, the procedure is reinforced with other tendons.
After either treatment, physical therapy exercises are necessary to strengthen the leg muscles as well as the Achilles tendon. In most cases, the previous activity level of the individual can be restored within 4-6 months.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on Achilles tendon rupture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Toronto First Aid.