Achilles Tendon Rupture

It’s that time of the year again where the temperatures increase and the layers of clothes decrease. This time of year seems to ramp up the activity level as cabin fever has taken its toll on many people. Whether your motivation to increase your activity level is fueled by a desire to enjoy the warmer temperatures or too look good in a two-piece, the “weekend warrior” athlete can quickly see a summer of fun turn to a summer of misery.

One of the most common injuries seen with this weekend warrior type of patient is rupture of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a bend of elastic tissue that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. This is the largest tendon in the body and responsible for plantarflexing the foot with each step and the main tendon responsible for explosive jumping and cutting maneuvers in sports like basketball, football, and volleyball.

What are the symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Rupture?

An acute rupture of the Achilles tendon is usually accompanied by a loud “pop” sound immediately following an explosive athletic maneuver, followed by severe pain to the back of the heel, muscle weakness, and inability to push off with the foot. While research demonstrates a higher prevalence of acute rupture in men compared to women, a more reliable predictor of rupture is the previous history of tendonitis to the area from the previous injury.

Chronic inflammation can also lead to eventual complete rupture. This happens due to degeneration of the tendon caused by micro tears, thus weakening the strength and overall integrity of the tendon itself.

Treatment for acute Achilles tendon rupture consists of either non-surgical or surgical options. Your foot and ankle surgeon will help decide which option is best for you based on your overall health, functional ability to follow rehabilitation program, age, and activity level.

Each option has its pros and cons. The non-operative option has no complications related to surgery like infection and healing issues, but recovery is generally longer, a re-rupture rate can be as high as 10 percent, and strength is reduced after complete recovery.

Surgical repair of a ruptured Achilles tendon is generally reserved for younger, more active patients. Surgical repair generally requires a shorter healing time and results in less loss of functional power. However, since this area of the body has an inherently poor blood supply, healing a surgical wound can become problematic.

You should see your foot and ankle surgeon as soon as possible if you suspect that you have ruptured your Achilles tendon.  Call 816-943-1111 to schedule an appointment.  The sooner treatment can be started, whether operative or non-operative, the better the long-term outcome will be.