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Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord present behind the ankle that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is used when you walk, run and jump. The Achilles tendon ruptures most often in athletes participating in sports that involve running, pivoting and jumping. Recreational sports that may cause Achilles rupture include tennis, football, basketball and gymnastics. This injury also often occurs when stepping up onto a curb or step with the ball of the foot.

When the Achilles tendon ruptures, you will experience severe pain in the back of your leg above your heel, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty to stand on tiptoe and push the leg when walking. A popping or snapping sound may be heard when the injury occurs.

Dr. Driscoll diagnoses the rupture based on symptoms, history of the injury and physical examination. Dr. Driscoll may also feel a gap or depression in the tendon, just above heel bone. Dr. Driscoll will gently squeeze the calf muscles. If the Achilles tendon is intact, there will be flexion movement of the foot. If it is ruptured, there will be no movement observed.

Achilles tendon rupture is treated using non-surgical methods or surgical repair. Non-surgical treatment involves wearing a cast or special brace, and allowing the tendon to heal. Surgical treatment involves opening the skin and suturing the torn tendon together. Surgery may slightly decrease the risk of recurrent Achilles rupture in comparison to non-surgical treatment. Recent studies, however, demonstrate good outcomes with both non-surgical and surgical treatments. In either case, physical therapy is recommended to improve the strength and flexibility of leg muscles and the Achilles tendon.