The 26 Review
- What is an Achilles Tendon rupture An Achilles Tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of the lower leg, causing pain and discomfort.
- Causes Sports, poor blood flow, falling or tripping, and fluoroquinolone antibiotic use
- Symptoms Pain, inability to push off with the toes, inability to stand, and popping or snapping noises
- Diagnosis Physical examination and advanced imaging tests, such as MRI and ultrasound
- Treatment Ice, rest, elevation, casting, crutches, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and surgery
Let’s take a closer look…
An Achilles Tendon rupture refers to a complete or partial tear of the Achilles Tendon, which is the large tendon located at the back of the ankle. This injury often occurs during activities that involve a sudden, forceful movement of the foot and calf, such as jumping or pivoting. Individuals may experience sudden and severe pain in the back of the leg or ankle, accompanied by a popping or snapping sensation. Walking or bearing weight on the affected leg can be difficult or impossible. Swelling, bruising, and a visible gap or indentation may be present at the site of the injury. Prompt medical attention is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment options for an Achilles Tendon rupture vary depending on the severity of the injury and individual factors. Non-surgical approaches may include immobilization with a cast or walking boot, followed by physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility. In some cases, surgical repair may be necessary to reattach the torn tendon. Rehabilitation is a crucial part of the recovery process to restore normal function and prevent future injuries. It is important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions and engage in a gradual return to activities to ensure optimal healing and minimize the risk of re-rupture.
Causes & Symptoms
A rupture usually occurs in the section of the tendon near where it attaches to the heel bone. This section is prone to ruptures due to poor blood flow, which can impair the ability to heal. Oftentimes, a rupture is caused by a sudden increase in stress on the Achilles Tendon. This can happen during intense sports or physical activity, specifically during activities that involve jumping. Falling and tripping over a hole can cause a rupture as well. Most individuals experience the following symptoms: pain, popping or snapping noises, inability to stand on the toes, and inability to push off with the foot.
A podiatrist will begin the diagnosis process with a physical exam to inspect the lower leg for tenderness and swelling. The medical professional might also be able to feel a gap in the tendon if it has ruptured completely. While laying down, the calf muscle may be squeezed to see if the foot will flex automatically. If it does not, then the patient most likely has a ruptured Achilles Tendon. To determine if the tendon is completely or partially ruptured, the doctor may order an ultrasound or MRI.
Treatment for a ruptured Achilles Tendon oftentimes depends on one’s age, activity level, and the severity of the injury. Generally, younger and more active people tend to choose surgery to repair a completely ruptured tendon, while older patients are more likely to opt out of surgical treatment. However, it should be noted that both surgical and nonsurgical management of this condition have proved effective in symptom relief. Nonsurgical treatments typically involve resting, icing, anti-inflammatory medications, and keeping the ankle wrapped while using a boot and crutches. Nonsurgical treatments avoid the risks associated with surgery, however, the conservative approach can increase the chances of a re-rupture. With surgery, the procedure involves making an incision on the back of the lower leg and stitching the torn tendon together. Depending on the tear, the repair may be reinforced with other tendons or a tendon graft. Speak with your podiatrist today to determine which treatment plan is right for you!