The Achilles tendon is a tough fibrous band that connects the back of the calf of your lower leg to the heel bone. Over-stretching the Achilles tendon may cause it to tear or rupture. The tendon may tear partially or completely depending on how much the injury has progressed.
Upon the onset f the injury, you may feel a sudden snap or pop in your lower leg, which is usually followed by an excruciating sharp pain in the lower leg and the back of your ankle. The pain due to the rupture may also restrict you from walking or may not let you walk at all.
It is best to treat the injury through surgery in order to repair the ruptures tendon. However, for many people, often with mild tears, non-surgical treatment may work as well.
Important: This post on Achilles Tendon Rupture is for learning purposes only. To learn to manage these injuries, sprains and strains sign up for first aid and CPR training through the Canadian Red Cross.
Signs and symptoms
Sometimes Achilles tendon rupture may not cause any signs and symptoms, however, most people experience:
- Moderate to severe pain
- Swelling near the heel
- Inability to bend the affected foot downward
- Inability to push the injured leg while walking
- Inability to stand on your toes with the injure leg
- A sudden pop or snap when the injury takes place
When to seek medical help
See a doctor immediately if you hear an audible injury, such as in form of a pop or snap, in your heel – especially if you are unable to walk after hearing this sound.
Achilles tendon ruptures are usually caused from the following examples:
- Falling from a height
- Drastically increasing the intensity of sports activities
- Stepping into a hole
Treatment for Achilles tendon rupture usually depends on the age, activity and severity of the damage. Younger people usually choose surgical repair while older people may opt for non-surgical treatment.
This method of treatment involves wearing a cast for a required period of time followed by a walking boot with wedges that will keep your heel elevated. This will allow the tendon to heal. This is an effective treatment method, which avoids risks such as infection that may occur from surgery. However, with non-surgical treatment, the person may re-injure his tendon, in which case, the recovery period may be longer than last time. If the tendon gets re-injured, surgical repair may need to be sought.
This is a common treatment that involves making an incisions at the back of the lower leg followed by stretching the tendon together to repair the damage. Complications that occur as a result of surgery may include nerve damage and infection. The number of infections associated with surgeries is greatly reduced in surgeries that involve smaller incisions.
After treatment (surgical or nonsurgical), your doctor may instruct you to go through a rehabilitation regime which may involve physical therapy exercises that will strengthen the Achilles tendon and leg muscles. Most people can return to their normal physical activity after 4-6 months of rehabilitation.
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