The Achilles tendon (heel cord), is a cord like structure at the back of the ankle, is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body and attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus). This tendon is critical for walking, running, and balance. When it completely tears it is called a rupture.
Causes of Rupture
There are several factors that can contribute to an Achilles rupture. In some instances, disease or disuse make the tendon prone to injury. While in other instances, medications can induce rupture. Most commonly ruptures occur either in middle-aged males (week-end warrior types) who participate in recreational sports involving a sudden twist or push off, or individuals that stumble off a curb or stair causing a forceful stretch of the Achilles tendon.
- Feeling of sudden pain in back of ankle
- A pop or snap may be felt or heard'
- Swelling and a noticeable gap in the tendon can be felt or seen in the tendon
- Weakness in push off can be immediately felt and standing on tip toes is impossible
Remember Rest , Ice , Compression and Elevation ( R.I.C.E.) as with any acute injury, is most helpful. Caution should be used to avoid direct application of ice to the area to avoid thermal injury. Over-the-counter medication such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be helpful for pain relief. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (i.e. Advil or Aleve) can cause abnormal bleeding and should be avoided until it has been determined that surgery is not needed.
Treatment is absolutely recommended, as doing nothing will cause permanent weakness of the Achilles and associated calf muscles and longterm bracing may be needed to prevent developing heel sores. Patients who are young and active in sports, or have demanding occupations that require a strong Achilles tendon, surgery is the treatment of choice. The surgery involves suturing the ruptured ends of the tendon back together and applying a splint for several weeks while the tendon heals. Surgery Protocol
The non-surgical option is the treatment of choice for older and more sedentary individuals. This method involves splinting or casting the foot with the toe pointing downward (plantarflexed cast position), Weightbearing is gradually initiated. However, casting alone does have a higher incidence of re-rupture of the tendon as compared to surgical treatment. With either treatment choice, we follow proven treatments protocols to provide the most optimal outcomes.
We are proud to be your Achilles expert to troubleshoot tears, strains, partial ruptures, thickening, and more all around the Seattle area. Whether you are in Everett, Bothell, Arlington or Lynnwood, Lake Stevens call us today to make an apointment and we can educate you on Achilles problems and better yet solutions!
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