Tendon injuries: Ruptured Achilles tendon

Achilles tendon rupture is the complete tear of the Achilles tendon and usually affects men starting at 40 years old and those who engage in recreational sports. Achilles tendon rupture can happen to anyone whether an athlete or when engaging in daily activities.

The Achilles tendon is the major tendon in the body. It stretches from the bones of the heel all the way to the calf muscles. It can be felt as a springy band of tissues at the back of the ankle and above the heel. It is responsible for keeping the toes pointed towards the floor. Injuries to the tendon can be mild to moderate and feels like burning sensation or stiffness in the leg. Gymnasts and dancers are susceptible to this condition and people playing sports such as running, football, basketball, softball, baseball, volleyball and tennis can also be affected.

Causes of Achilles tendon rupture

  • Overdoing an activity
  • Wearing high heels which places significant stress on the tendon.
  • Increasing the level of physical activity suddenly.
    Ruptured Achilles tendon

    Take plenty of rest. Use crutches to avoid putting weight on the affected leg for fast healing of the condition.

  • Having “flat feet” or fallen arches. When taking a step, the impact causes the arch of the foot to collapse and stretches the muscles and tendons.
  • Tightness of the muscles or tendons
  • Taking medications such as glucocorticoids or antibiotics called fluoroquinolones

Symptoms

  • Pain is described as a physically blow by an object
  • A loud popping sound can be heard at the time of the injury
  • Limping when walking
  • Pain above the heel especially when stretching the ankle or standing on the toes.
  • When the tendon ruptures, the pain is instant and severe.
  • The area becomes tender, swelling and stiff.
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty in pointing the toes if there is a complete tendon tear

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest. Use crutches to avoid putting weight on the affected leg for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours to lessen the pain and swelling for 2-3 days until the pain disappears.
  • Compress the leg using an elastic bandage around the lower leg and ankle to lessen the swelling. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent any disruption of the blood circulation.
  • Elevate the affected leg above the level of the heart.
  • Provide the individual with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can add stress to the affected area and worsen the condition. Proper exercise and diet is good for the condition. Perform moderate cardiovascular activity for at least 30 minutes for 5 days to maintain a healthy body that includes walking, running and swimming and anything that raises the heart rate.
  • Wear an insert for the shoe while in the healing process to protect the Achilles tendon from further stretching.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on Achilles tendon rupture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage tendon injuries including a ruptured Achilles tendon by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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