What is a Rupture of the Achilles Tendon?
Muscles are connected to the bones in your body by tendons, which are soft tissues. The longest tendon in the body is the Achilles tendon. It is located behind your ankles and connects the heel bones in each foot with the calf muscles in each leg. When the calf muscles contract they tighten the Achilles tendon and pull the heel. This process allows for movements of the foot and toes needed to run, walk, and jump.
The Achilles tendon is most often injured during sports activities, including running, walking, playing basketball, football, baseball, hockey, and other physically exerting activities. When the tendon is injured it often becomes inflamed, which leads to tendonitis. This injury presents itself with pain and swelling. Immediate medical attention is required when severe injuries involving tearing or rupturing of the Achilles tendon occur.
Causes of an Achilles Tendon Injury
Achilles tendon injuries are most often seen in males who are middle-aged who play sports occasionally or those who are considered weekend warriors. The tendon suffers a rupture due to it becoming weakened from advanced age or from a sudden burst of activity. The sports where this injury occurs the most include basketball, badminton, and tennis.
People more susceptible to suffering a tendon injury include the following:
- Those with a history of tendonitis
- Those suffering from diabetes
- Those suffering from arthritis
- People taking specific antibiotics
Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Injury
The most glaring of all the symptoms of an injury to your Achilles tendon is the inability to raise yourself up on your tippy-toes. Most patients who suffer this type of injury often say that they heard a popping or snapping sound at the time of the injury. They then suffer from immense pain, swelling, and stiffness in the area of the ankle. Bruising will also occur a few hours to a day later. If the tendon is not ruptured, the pain and swelling will be mild.
Diagnosing an Achilles Tendon Injury
In order to diagnose an Achilles tendon rupture injury, you will need to be medically evaluated by a doctor. The doctor will want to take a close look at the affected leg and then perform a Thompson test. This is when the patient lies down on their stomach and the doctor presses on the calf muscle. The doctor will be able to tell if the tendon is still connected to the heel or if it has become disconnected using this test.
There are some instances where the patient will be required to undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the ankle injury and if surgery is needed from an orthopedic surgeon.
Treating an Achilles Tendon Tear
The main goal of treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture in the ankle is to repair the physiology of the tendon so that the patient is able to perform the activities he or she took part in prior to suffering the injury.
It is vital that you perform the RICE treatment method immediately after suffering an Achilles tendon rupture in the ankle and foot. This includes the following:
- (R) rest the injured area
- (I) apply ice to the injured area
- (C) compress the area to help prevent swelling
- (E) elevate the injured area to reduce swelling
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
If your tear of the Achilles tendon does not require surgery, the area can be stabilized in a cast for at least six weeks so that the tendon can heal itself. Once the cast is removed, you will need to undergo physical therapy to regain strength in the impacted muscles and range of motion.
Surgical Treatment Methods
If the medical surgeon recommends undergoing surgery because of your symptoms and physical condition, it will be done so to help prevent tendonitis. The procedure will involve your foot because of the tear.
Surgical procedures are recommended for patients who are in the following groups:
- Athletes who suffered a rupture
- People who perform physical work
- The tendon has re-ruptured
Schedule an Appointment at OrthoBethesda Today
If you have suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, it is in your best interest to schedule an appointment for more information with the experienced medical team at OrthoBethesda. A ruptured Achilles tendon can make life very difficult if it is not properly repaired. Call us today at (301) 530-1010 to schedule an appointment with a provider for your ankle rupture injury.