Achilles tendon rupture involves full or partial tear if the tendon is overly stretched beyond its normal capacity. It is important to note that the Achilles tendon moves down the inferior region of the inferior leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel.
Strong pivoting or jumping or abrupt accelerations in running can excessively stretch the tendon and the outcome is a tear. Any damage to the tendon can occur from tripping or falling.
A person with Achilles tendon rupture usually have one or any of the following:
- Abrupt calf or ankle pain in the back part that diminishes into a dull aching sensation
- Popping or snap-like sensation
- Swelling on the back region of the leg amid the heel and calf
- Difficulty or inability to walk and going on tiptoes
The symptoms require immediate medical care to prevent further harm. Until a healthcare provider can be seen, the RICE method is used which involves:
- Rest – keep off the damaged foot and ankle since walking can lead to further pain and damage
- Ice – apply an ice pack wrapped with a clean cloth or towel to reduce the pain and swelling.
- Compression – the foot and ankle must be wrapped using an elastic bandage to prevent swelling
- Elevation – the affected leg must be raised evenly or slightly above the level of the heart to minimize the swelling
Management of Achilles tendon rupture
The available treatment options for an Achilles tendon rupture include both conservative and surgical measures.
These measures are suitable for minor ruptures, less active individuals and those with existing health ailments that makes them unlikely candidates for surgery. The commonly used measures include the placement of a cast, brace or even a walking boot to restrict movement and enable the broken tendon to heal.
It is sad to note that these measures put an individual at higher risk for re-rupturing the Achilles tendon.
The surgical approach can provide potential benefits. Aside from reducing the likelihood for re-rupturing, surgery often improves the push-off power and muscular role and ankle motion.
Whether Achilles tendon rupture is managed conservatively or surgically, physical therapy is a vital component for healing. Physical therapy includes exercises that strengthen the muscles and improve the range of movement of the ankle and foot.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on Achilles tendon rupture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this tendon injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.