Achilles Tendon Tear
The following describes the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Achilles tendon tears. For specific information regarding your health and treatment options, please contact your Hurley physician or medical professional.
What is Achilles tendon tear?
The tendon behind your ankle, which connects the heel bone to the calf muscle, is referred to as the Achilles tendon. It is the largest tendon in the body and enables the foot to rise up and push off when running or walking. A rupture of this tendon may be complete or partial, and treatment options are individualized to the patient according to the severity of the tear and the patient’s age and activity level.
What causes Achilles tendon tear?
A number of factors may increase the risk of experiencing an Achilles tendon tear:
- Improper or insufficient warm up before exercise
- Beginning or changing an exercise program at a high level without a gradual build-up (especially after periods of inactivity)
- Poor conditioning
- Low degree of muscle flexibility
- Sudden bursts of speed
- Flat feet
What are the symptoms of Achilles tendon tear?
- Rapid onset of pain and swelling
- Difficulty bending or inability to bend your foot downward or walk normally
How is Achilles tendon tear diagnosed?
Your Hurley physician will conduct a complete physical exam of your foot and ankle, and will ask questions about your exercise or fitness routine and the circumstances around which the injury occurred or first became apparent. If a rupture or tear is suspected, your physician may order an MRI.
How is Achilles tendon tear treated?
For immediate care after an injury, follow the PRINCE treatment model:
P: Protect your ankle with a supportive brace and, if necessary, use crutches.
R: Rest your ankle.
I: Use ice your ankle several times a day for 10 to 20 minutes each time, to reduce pain and swelling. (Be sure to use a cloth between the ice or ice bag and your ankle, in order to avoid damage to your skin.)
N: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may be used to help with pain relief and to reduce swelling.
C: Compression with an elastic compression wrap also helps reduce swelling; however, do not rely on the wrap for support while walking.
E: Elevation—raise your foot above the level of your heart to reduce swelling and bruising.
Your Hurley physician will determine appropriate and specific Achilles tendon tear treatment options based on your age, overall health and fitness, and medical history.
Nonsurgical treatment options include corticosteroid injections, orthotics, walking boots and crutches. Your doctor may show you a series of gentle stretches and range of motion exercises that you can perform to improve flexibility, and may also prescribe physical therapy to learn proper exercise technique and form in order to prevent a recurrence of the injury.
If the tear or rupture is serious or if more conservative treatment options are not effective, your doctor may recommend surgery.