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Achilles Tendon Rupture

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Our lower body tendons, muscles, and tissues make it possible to stand, walk, run, and jump easily and with power. If an injury occurs to the Achilles tendon, located on the lower leg, your ability to perform these basic functions is diminished or eliminated entirely. Most Achilles injuries occur suddenly, but some patients experience long-term wear and tear that eventually leads to a full or partial rupture of the tendon. If you believe you have suffered an Achilles tendon rupture, our leading orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons can help you restore strength, movement, and comfort in the area. Contact Garden State Orthopaedic Associates today to schedule a consultation.

What Is an Achilles Tendon Rupture?

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and it makes it possible for you to run, jump, walk, stand on your tiptoes, and more. The tendon is connected to the bottom of your calf muscle on one end and your heel at the other. Damage or rupture (a tear) to this tendon can cause significant pain and may make it difficult or impossible to walk. You may still be able to stand upright with an Achilles tear, as surrounding muscles help compensate for the injury, or you may lose all function on that side.

What Are the Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Rupture?

In rare cases, there may not be any symptoms of a rupture; however, more commonly, patients will experience one or more of the following:

  • Pain, potentially severe, and swelling near the ankle
  • The sensation of having been kicked or struck in the calf
  • Inability to push off the foot while walking
  • Inability to stand on the toes of the affected leg
  • A loud pop or snap at the point of injury

If you notice any of these signs, or if you believe your Achilles tendon has torn, we recommend contacting your primary care physician or a board certified orthopaedic surgeon like the ones at our practice to diagnose and treat your concern.

What Causes an Achilles Tendon Rupture?

Blood flow in the area where the Achilles tendon most commonly ruptures is low; this point sits a couple of inches above the heel. Increased stress in this vulnerable area can lead to a partial or full tear, as can suddenly increasing the intensity of a workout or sports participation, falling from a great height, or stepping into a deep hole, for instance. Other factors may also contribute to a tear, which our surgeons can discuss during your initial consultation.

Most individuals who suffer from an Achilles tear have a few risk factors in common, including being between the age of 30 and 40, being male (men are up to five times more likely to experience an Achilles rupture), participating in running and jumping sports, having received steroid injections into the ankle, taking certain antibiotics, and carrying excess weight.

Treatments for Achilles Tendon Rupture

Not all instances of Achilles tendon rupture require surgical treatment. In many cases, patients can recover effectively with non-surgical options. The severity of your condition, your individual medical needs, age, and other factors will play a role in the best approach for you.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Achilles Tendon Rupture

Rest, including using crutches as a walking aid, applying ice to swollen areas, and taking over-the-counter pain-relieving medication can be sufficient to address an Achilles tendon tear. It’s usually best to immobilize the ankle for several weeks to allow the tendon to heal. Our surgeons can give you information on which type of walking boot or heel wedge you can try, or whether a cast may be a better choice. With non-surgical treatment, there is a higher risk of a recurring rupture, although many patients never experience an issue again, particularly if they participate in physical therapy.

Surgical Treatment for Achilles Tendon Rupture

Minimally invasive and arthroscopic techniques will be used as much as possible, and most surgical procedures require only a small incision to the lower leg of the affected ankle. The tendon will be stitched back together or other tendons will be used to support the damaged tissue. Patients of all ages often heal very well after this operation.

Recovery Following Achilles Tendon Rupture

The most important part of recovery following an Achilles tendon rupture repair is physical therapy. You will be shown certain exercises and stretches to help strengthen your calf muscles and Achilles tendon and to reduce the risk of future injury. It’s important to maintain a certain level of strength in this area to preserve your mobility throughout your life. Most patients can return to normal activity, including participating in sports, in about four to six months.

Get the best care for your concern at Garden State Orthopaedic Associates. Contact our practice today to schedule a consultation.