The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. A rupture occurs when there is a tearing or separation of the tendon fibers.
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Achilles tendon rupture can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of the affected area. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include the one or more of the following:
You will need time to heal. RICE and immediate medical care are often the pain part of treatment:
Crutches or a walker may be advised to protect the healing tendon.
Prescription or over-the-counter medication may be advised to reduce pain.
Surgery is the most common treatment for this condition. An incision is made in the lower leg and the tendon is sewn back together. A cast, splint, walking boot, or brace is worn for 6-8 weeks. One of the benefits of surgery is that it lowers the risk of re-rupturing the tendon. Surgery may also be a better option if you are physically active.
The other option is to allow your tendon to heal without surgery. In this case, you also need to wear a cast, splint, walking boot, or brace for 6-8 weeks. You also may have different exercises to do. If you are less active or have a chronic illness that prevents surgery, this option may be better for you.
A physical therapist will assess the tendon. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to stregthen the muscles.
To help reduce your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture, take the following steps:
American Podiatric Medical Association
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Achilles tendon rupture. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=AV0003. Updated February 2009. Accessed March 9, 2015.
Achilles tendon rupture. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/Content.aspx?id=1363&terms=achilles%20tendon%20rupture. Accessed February 28, 2014.
Achilles tendon rupture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 15, 2015. Accessed March 9, 2015.
Maffulli, N. Current concepts review—rupture of the Achilles tendon. JBJS. 1999;81:1019-1036.
van der Linden P, Sturkenboom C, Herings R, et al. Increased risk of Achilles tendon rupture with quinolone antibacterial use, especially in elderly patients taking oral corticosteroids. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163:1801-1807.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT Last Updated: 2/28/2014