Your Achilles tendon helps you point your foot downward, rise on your toes, and push off your foot as you walk. You rely on it virtually every time you walk and move your foot. One of the most common injuries affecting the Achilles tendon is a tendon rupture.
An Achilles tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of your lower leg. Ruptures usually occur in the section of the tendon situated within 2 1/2 inches (about 6 centimeters) of the point where it attaches to the heel bone. This section might be prone to rupture because blood flow can be poor, which also can impair its ability to heal.
Achilles tendon ruptures most often occur in people playing recreational sports but can happen to anyone. The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture) completely or partially. If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you may hear a pop, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg. This injury will likely affect your ability to walk properly. Surgery is often performed to repair the rupture. For many people, however, nonsurgical treatments work just as well.
Ruptures are often caused by a sudden increase in the stress on your Achilles tendon. Common examples include:
- Increasing the intensity of sports participation far too quickly, especially in sports that involve jumping
- Falling from a height
- Stepping into a hole
Although it’s possible to have no signs or symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury, most people experience the following symptoms when the tendon ruptures:
- The feeling of having been kicked in the calf
- Pain, possibly severe, and swelling near the heel
- An inability to bend the foot downward or “push off” the injured leg when walking
- An inability to stand on the toes of the injured leg
- A popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs
To reduce your chance of developing an Achilles tendon rupture, follow these tips:
- Stretch and strengthen calf muscles regularly – especially before exercising or playing sports. Stretch your calf until you feel a noticeable pull but not pain. Don’t bounce during a stretch. Calf-strengthening exercises can also help the muscles and tendon absorb more force and prevent injury.
- Vary your exercises. Alternate high-impact sports, such as running, with low-impact sports, such as walking, biking, or swimming. Limit activities that place excessive stress on your Achilles tendon, such as hill running and jumping activities.
- Choose running surfaces carefully. Limit running on hard or slippery surfaces. Dress properly for cold-weather training and wear well-fitted athletic shoes with proper cushioning in the heels.
- Increase training intensity slowly. Achilles tendon injuries commonly occur after an abrupt increase in training intensity. Increase the distance, duration, and frequency of your training by no more than 10% every week.
Achilles Tendon Rupture Treatment in Maryland
At Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland Foot & Ankle Care, our podiatrists have the extensive training and experience to diagnose, treat, and prevent foot and ankle issues, including Achilles tendon ruptures. We have state-of-the-art surgical techniques and a caring, patient-centered approach to helping patients recover.
Call us at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663) today to schedule an appointment. You can also request an appointment online. We look forward to serving you!