There are some sounds in sports you want to hear. The satisfying crack of a bat against a baseball, for example, or the gentle swish of a basketball going through the net. However, one noise you don’t want to hear is a pop coming from your heel. An Achilles tendon rupture is a painful injury that will need careful management to ensure proper healing.
Snapping the Band
The Achilles tendon connects the muscles at the back of the calf to the heel bone. It is the largest tendon in the human body as well as the strongest. During activities such as running or climbing stairs, the Achilles has been shown to bear at least 10 times normal body weight.
Just because the tendon is strong, however, does not mean it’s invincible. The Achilles can become inflamed and overstretched, damaging the fibers that construct it. In some cases, the tendon can tear either partially or fully.
A torn Achilles is often the result of repeated stress to the tendon, especially if this stress comes suddenly and the Achilles is not conditioned to handle greater forces. The injury is more common in older individuals and those who suddenly engage in intense activity without proper training and warm-up (e.g. the “weekend warrior” type).
A popping or snapping noise is the most distinct symptom of an Achilles tendon rupture, but it does not always happen. Intense pain tends to develop immediately following the injury. If the rupture is full, there will very likely be a limp. The majority of people will be unable to climb stairs, stand on their toes, or run (not that they would want to!).
Treatment for Torn Tendons
A torn Achilles is not something to try and “walk off.” If you suspect an Achilles tendon rupture, contact us at Family Foot Care & Surgery right away. We can provide advice on first aid and self-care until we can see you.
Treatment for a torn Achilles often depends on a number of circumstances surrounding the patient, including their age, activity level, and other factors that might interfere with the patient’s healing or comfort. Generally, however, surgery will often be recommended for a full rupture and conservative treatment for a partial tear.
A surgical option is even more likely in young, healthy, athletic. Different techniques exist for repairing the torn tendon, using varying sizes of incisions. After the procedure, a short cast or medical boot is often worn to immobilize the area and provide it a chance to heal.
Conservative or non-surgical treatment often involves immobilizing the affected heel and leg as well. This period lasts for 6-10 weeks, after which walking with the cast tend to be allowed for another 4-6 weeks. Physical therapy is recommended once the cast is removed to help the tendon and surrounding muscles regain their strength. While non-surgical approaches prevent the need to operate on a patient, it does come with a slightly higher risk of re-injury in the future.If you have ruptured your Achilles tendon, rest assured that Dr. Sanjay Patel and our staff will fully lay out all your options for recovery and makes sure you have a full understanding of the situation. We’ll be with you from treatment and all the way through the recovery process. Reach either of our two offices through our website or by phone: (203) 876-7736 for Milford or (203) 288-4055 for Hamden.