Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles Tendon Problems

A tendon is a cord of flexible, thick collagen tissues which joins a muscle to a bone. The Achilles tendon joins the calf muscle to the heel bone on the posterior side of the leg and helps in mobility by lifting the heel off a surface. A sudden force on the foot or ankle can cause Achilles tendon to break or tear causing a rupture.

Achilles tendon rupture:

The Achilles tendon is vulnerable to rupture injuries more than any other tendon in muscles. The tendon can break due to intense stress by physical activities that require rapid increase in speed, such as excessive running or jumping.

Achilles tendon causes:

  • Extra bone growth
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Sudden increase in a repetitive activity
  • Wearing high heels
  • Overuse

Achilles tendon rupture symptoms:

  • A sudden snap and severe pain at the back of the ankle or calf felt like being hit, kicked or cut.
  • Swelling, stiffness, and painful bruising.
  • Inability to stand on tiptoe and pushing off for movement.

Diagnosing achilles tendon rupture:

Diagnosis can usually be made during a physical exam. Our podiatrist will examine your lower leg for swelling and may be able to feel a gap in your tendon if it has torn completely. A common test of squeezing your calf muscles to see if your foot flexes will determine if you have ruptured your Achilles. An ultrasound or MRI may be needed to determine the extent of the rupture.

Achilles tendon surgery:

Surgical procedures help increase patient’s ability to push-off from the heel and improve ankle movement. Surgery can help provide quick recovery. However, there is a risk of wound healing problems.

Two types of surgeries for Achilles Tendon Treatment

Open surgery: The surgeon performs the procedure with a long, single incision on the backside of the leg.

Percutaneous surgery: Involves several small incisions. After surgery, the surgeon immobilises the foot and ankle with the use of a cast or walking boot for 6-12 weeks. The patient can leave for home on the same day.

Those who have jobs that do not require significant physical activity could continue working after 1 – 2 weeks, while those who need to stand on their feet may have to wait for 6-8 weeks. It can take 6-12 months to gain sufficient strength before returning to high impact activities.

Find out information on achilles tendonitis

Frequently asked questions

If an Achilles tendon ruptures, the tendon will require quick surgery. The recovery time is typically up to 3 months in a cast or boot, and full rehabilitation can take 6 – 12 months. 

The symptoms typically involve a popping sound at the time of injury followed by pain and swelling in the calf or back of the heel. There will also be a loss of strength if trying to lift your heels from the ground.

Exceeding the usual level of forces on the tendon can cause it to rupture. This may be falling from a height, a sudden sprinting and jumping action.

Strengthening and stretching your calf muscles will help reduce the risk of rupture. You should always gradually increase the level of activity.

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