The Achilles tendon connects your heel bone to your calf muscles and allows you to point your toes downward, jump, and run. An Achilles Tear (also known as an Achilles Rupture) occurs when you injure your Achilles Tendon in such a way that the tendon splits or snaps. This results in extreme pain and immobility. It is a common injury in both athletes and non-athletes.
What causes an Achilles Tear?
- Over or excessive use
- Direct traumatic blow
- Sudden burst of movement and use without warming up or stretching
- Footwear that causes imbalance
How do I know if I have an Achilles Tear?
What are the symptoms of an Achilles Tear?
The most common symptoms of an Achilles Tear are:
- Sharp pop or snap in the back of your foot
- Moderate to intense pain in your ankle and leg
- Swelling in or near your heel
- Inability to stand on your toes
- Inability to walk properly
How is an Achilles Tear diagnosed?
- Physical examination by your doctor. Your physician will feel the tendon and see if there's a hole or defect in the tendon.
- An MRI
What can I do from home for an Achilles Tear?
What can I do to prevent an Achilles Tear?
- Warm up your muscles before use
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially the terrain (ie, avoid hilly or hole-pocked running paths)
- Mix up your physical training. Over-use can weaken your Achilles tendon. Participating in varying activities reduce the risk of an Achilles Tear.
- Only do activities you're used to. Suddenly starting a high-impact sport can over-stress your muscles and tendons
What treatments can I do from home for an Achilles Tear?
- Rest - Get off your injured foot as soon as possible. Relieving weight and pressure will help your foot heal faster and avoid further injury.
- Ice - Rest or wrap your injured foot with ice as soon as possible. Ice helps prevent swelling and promotes faster healing time. Wrap the ice in a towel to avoid putting ice directly on the skin.
- Compress - Immobilize the injured foot with a bandage or ankle brace. This gives your ankle stability and protects it from further injury. Make sure you don't wrap your foot and ankle too tightly. You don't want to cut off the blood supply to your foot.
- Elevate - Make sure you keep your foot elevated as this will also help to minimize swelling. It's best if you can elevate your foot to the level of your heart.
- Take anti-inflammatory pain medication
When should I see a doctor for an Achilles Tear?
You should see a doctor for an Achilles Tear if you hear a sharp pop or snap during physical activity; especially if you have trouble walking afterwards.
Treatments your doctor may recommend for an Achilles Tear
- Not putting any weight on your foot
- Wearing a boot or cast that immobilizes the ankle
- Physical therapy
The surgeon will make an incision in your leg and then sew your Achilles tendon back together. The usual recovery time is 4-6 months.