What is Achilles tendon rupture?

Achilles tendon rupture involves partial or full tear in a tendon as it is stretched beyond its normal capacity. The Achilles tendon travels down the rear part of the lower leg and links the calf muscle to the heel bone. Forceful pivoting or jumping or abrupt accelerations when running can overly stretch the tendon and result to a tear. In addition, falls or tripping can also damage the tendon.

What are the indications?

An individual with an Achilles tendon rupture might have one or several of the following:

  • Abrupt pain in the rear part of the calf or ankle that subsides into a dull ache
  • Snapping or popping sensation
  • Swelling on the rear of the leg amidst the heel and calf
  • Difficulty walking and rising on the toes

    Abrupt pain in the rear part of the calf or ankle that subsides into a dull ache.

Once any of these symptoms are present, immediate medical care is required to prevent further damage. Until a doctor is seen, the RICE method is utilized:

  • Rest – avoid using the damaged foot and ankle since it can trigger pain or further damage
  • Ice – apply an ice pack to minimize the pain and swelling
  • Compression – wrap the foot and ankle using an elastic bandage to prevent further swelling
  • Elevation – make sure that the leg is raised slightly above the level of the heart to minimize the swelling

Management of Achilles tendon rupture

The treatment options for an Achilles tendon rupture include conservative and surgical approaches. The chosen treatment is based on the severity of the rupture and the overall health status and activity level of the individual.

Conventional approach

This approach is ideal for minor cases of Achilles tendon rupture and individuals who are less active and with medical conditions that prevents them from undergoing surgery. The commonly used measures include a cast, brace or walking boot to limit movement and allow the ruptured tendon to recuperate.

Surgical approach

Surgery can provide several benefits. Aside from reducing the possibility of damaging the Achilles tendon again, surgery increases the push-off strength and improves muscular function and ankle movement.

Several surgical measures are available to fix the rupture. The surgeon will choose the procedure ideally suited to the case of the individual. After surgery, the foot and ankle are immobilized initially with a cast or walking boot.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on Achilles tendon rupture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this type of tendon injury by taking a standard first aid course with Vancouver First Aid.


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