The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects your calf muscles to your heel bone and is used when you walk, run, and jump. So therefore, an Achilles tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of your lower leg. It mainly occurs in people playing recreational sports, but it can happen to anyone.
Although the Achilles tendon can withstand great stresses from running and jumping, it is vulnerable to injury. The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture) completely or just partially.
A rupture of the tendon is a tearing and separation of the tendon fibres so that the tendon can no longer perform its normal function.
If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you might hear a pop, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg that is likely to affect your ability to walk properly. Surgery is often performed to repair the rupture. For many people, however, nonsurgical treatment works just as well.
Achilles Tendon Rupture Treatment Options
Some patients may benefit from surgery to repair a fully ruptured Achilles tendon. The goal of the surgery is to stitch the tendon back together. However, in some cases, the damaged part (or the entire tendon) may need to be removed and replaced with tissues taken from another area of your foot.
For other patients, it may be best to avoid surgery. Nonsurgical treatment for Achilles tendon rupture focuses on allowing the tendon to heal naturally while it’s immobilized in a boot. Early functional weight-bearing is a key part of Achilles tendon rehabilitation for surgical and nonsurgical management.
Although it’s possible to have no signs or symptoms with an Achilles tendon rupture, most people have:
- The feeling of having been kicked in the calf
- Pain, possibly severe, and swelling near the heel
- An inability to bend the foot downward or “push off” the injured leg when walking
- An inability to stand on the toes on the injured leg
- A popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs
Consult an orthopaedic surgeon to determine which treatment approach will work best for you, based on your age, activity level and other factors.
Meet Dr Peter Smith, a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon operating from the Mediclinic Milnerton in Cape Town, Western Cape. His practice is situated in the heart of this seaside town. Dr Peter Smith not only offers patients the full spectrum of professional orthopaedic treatments, but specialises in total knee replacement, total hip replacement, sports injuries and the latest arthroscopic surgery techniques and computer guided surgery. He gained extensive experience in the latest arthroplasty techniques during his stay of 6 years in Australia where he performed more than a hundred primary and revision hip and knee replacements cases in a year.