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An Achilles rupture is the partial or complete tearing of your Achilles tendon, which connects your heel bone with your calf muscle. It usually occurs during sports that involve jumping, but anyone can accidentally overstretch the Achilles tendon, resulting in a rupture. Surgery is required to repair a completely ruptured Achilles tendon, but nonsurgical treatment can often heal a partial tear quite well.
The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that helps you point your foot downward, rise on your toes, and push off your foot as you walk. You us it every time you walk and move your foot.
Achilles tendon injuries often occur when playing sports, especially those that require jumping. When an Achilles tendon ruptures, you would immediately feel a sharp pain in the back of your foot and bottom part of the injured leg, and you might even hear a “popping” sound. You may or may not be able to move your foot or walk on it.
If you think you’ve ruptured your Achilles tendon, you need prompt medical attention and should see a UCHealth orthopedic specialist for a proper diagnosis.
An Achilles rupture is not an emergency, but you should get proper medical attention as soon as possible. We can provide any surgical or nonsurgical treatment that you might need, including physical therapy.
Achilles ruptures are caused by a sudden increase in the stress on your Achilles tendon, usually during sports and intense physical activities that increase the risk. A rupture typically occurs in the section of the tendon situated within 2.5 inches of where it attaches to the heel bone, a spot where blood flow is poor.
A rupture most commonly occurs from:
Although it’s possible to have no signs or symptoms with an Achilles tendon rupture, most people experience these symptoms:
We’ll treat your ruptured Achilles tendon based on the severity of the tear, your age, and your activity level. Depending on the injury, both surgical and nonsurgical repair can be equally effective in healing.
Nonsurgical treatment typically involves:
Surgery involves stitching the torn tendon together, and we might reinforce the repair with other tendons. We do this through one of two procedures:
Studies that compare nonsurgical vs. nonsurgical repair (a review of overlapping meta analyses) show that surgical treatments reduce the chance of re-rupture, and percutaneous repair has a lower chance of wound infection. Your orthopedic specialists will discuss the best treatment plan for your case.
After treatment, you’ll need physical therapy exercises to strengthen your leg muscles and Achilles tendon.
You can expect return to your former level of activity within four to six months, but you should still continue your prescribed strength and stability training because some problems can persist for up to a year.