Achilles Rupture

The Foot & Ankle Center
at Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey

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An Achilles tendon rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries. Often occurring in active patients between the ages of 30 and 50, it can be acute or occur as the result of chronic deterioration of the Achilles tendon.

If you are experiencing pain in the back of your calf or heel and associated limitations in your range of motion, an Achilles tendon rupture could be the culprit. The information below will help inform you about the diagnosis and treatment options for this condition.

What Does an Achilles Rupture Look Like?

Achilles tendon injuries are typically associated with swelling and bruising to the back of the calf and heel. Understanding the anatomy of the Achilles tendon can help patients visualize the mechanics of the injury that has occurred.

Anatomy of the Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel. It’s the largest tendon in the human body and contributes to movements such as walking, running, and jumping.

What Are the Common Symptoms of an Achilles Rupture?

Occasionally, an Achilles tendon rupture may be asymptomatic, but more often patients will experience some or all of the following:

  • Stabbing pain near the heel
  • Swelling and bruising near the heel
  • Pain in the calf muscle as if you’ve been kicked
  • Inability to stand on tiptoe, bend the foot downward, or push off the injured leg (such as when walking or jumping)
  • An audible pop or snap at the time of injury

What Tests Are Performed To Diagnose an Achilles Rupture?

Often, a physical examination will be sufficient to diagnose a ruptured Achilles tendon, but your surgeon may also order a diagnostic imaging test such as an ultrasound or MRI.

Consult With a New Jersey-Based Foot & Ankle Specialist for Expert Evaluation

If you suspect you may have a chronic or acute Achilles tendon rupture, the world-class team of surgeons at Modern Orthopaedics of New Jersey can help you move forward with a treatment plan that will put you on the fastest road to recovery.

How Is an Achilles Rupture Treated?

A fully ruptured Achilles is often treated surgically, but in some cases nonsurgical treatment may also be effective.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment options for Achilles tendon injury include resting, icing, pain management, and immobilization with a walking boot or cast that keeps the foot pointed downward. Physical therapy that prioritizes weight bearing as early as possible is associated with the most successful nonsurgical rehabilitation outcomes.

Surgical Treatment

There are several different surgical approaches used for Achilles tendon repairs, depending on whether the injury is acute or chronic, its location, and severity. Surgery may be open or performed percutaneously, but always involves the stitching together of the torn tendon. In some cases, damaged portions of the tendon may need to be removed and reinforced with an adjacent tendon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Recovery Process Like After an Achilles Rupture?

After Achilles tendon repair surgery, you’ll need to rest and ice the affected leg along with appropriate pain management. Physical therapy is also a key element of the rehabilitation process. It’s our biggest priority to get you moving and active after repair, within given parameters, to ensure the best functional outcome and return to sports/exercise.

Why Would I Need Surgical Intervention for an Achilles Rupture?

When the Achilles tendon is exposed to a sudden strong force (such as may occur when falling from a height, stepping in a hole, or participating in high impact activities—especially if you’ve recently increased your level of activity), it can spontaneously tear (rupture), usually just above the heel. Overstretching can also put your Achilles tendon at risk of rupturing, as can obesity, the use of metabolic steroids, aging, flat feet, and repetitive high impact activities (which can contribute to chronic ruptures).

How Long Does It Take To Fully Recover From an Achilles Rupture?

Most patients are able to return to their pre-injury activity levels between 4 and 8 months after surgery.

What Are the Potential Complications of an Untreated Achilles Rupture?

Leaving an Achilles rupture untreated is not recommended. Untreated Achilles tendon ruptures can cause chronic pain, limit mobility, and negatively impact quality of life.

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