Ruptured Achilles

In this video we discuss Achilles tendon ruptures and the progressive treatment options available at UFAI.

The Achilles Tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the body, but also the most commonly injured.

 

An Achilles rupture is often the result of forceful jumping, pivoting or running "gone wrong." A fall or trip can also cause the Achilles to rupture.

 

With decades of experience treating Achilles injuries, we always try to avoid surgery whenever possible. But if conservative measures do not give adequate relief, rest assured that you're being cared for by the best nationally recognized foot and ankle specialists.

What are the Symptoms of a Ruptured or Torn Achilles?

Bryan discusses his recent minimally invasive bilateral Achilles tendon tear repair surgery at UFAI.

Sudden, sharp pain in the back of the ankle is usually experienced with an Achilles rupture. Patients may even feel a “pop” or “snap” of the tendon and some report that it “felt like a shot” or that they thought that someone “kicked the back of their leg”.

 

Other times it may not actually hurt much at all, but the patient can no longer “push off” while walking stairs or trying to stand up. Walking may be difficult and standing on your toes may not even be possible.

 

 

Diagnosing a Torn Achilles Tendon

When diagnosing an Achilles rupture, podiatrists look for swelling, bruising, possible defect near the region of rupture, and test the functionality of the calf muscle. The integrity of the tendon can be tested by simply squeezing the calf muscle while the patient is lying on their stomach on the exam table. An MRI may be performed if the diagnosis is uncertain or to assist when determining the best treatment option.

 

 

Partially Torn Achilles Treatment

The treatment of a ruptured Achilles is determined by the severity of the tear. Conservative treatments may be an option if the Achilles is only partially torn. These treatments include a walking boot or cast that will immobilize the tendon during the healing process. It is important to note that conservative treatments are associated with a high rate or re-injury, or re-rupture, of the Achilles.

 

Surgical repair of a partially torn Achilles tendon can be performed but the treatment often will depend on the extent of the injury. A partially torn Achilles that is acute can be repaired by sewing the torn area back together. If the partial tear is chronic and the tendon has an abundance of scar tissue, this scar tissue may need to be removed surgically.

 

Occasionally, a graft can be wrapped around the tendon’s defect to help augment the repair. This is done as an out patient surgery and includes many benefits over conservative options, including: reduced rate of re-rupture, improved muscle function of the ankle and quick return to pre-injury activities.

 

Patients generally wear a cast for 3 weeks to immobilize the Achilles while it heals and physical therapy is recommended to strengthen the tendon and improve range of motion.

 

 

Ruptured Achilles Tendon Treatment

Achilles Tendon Illustration

If an Achilles is completely ruptured, surgery is generally required to reattach the tendon. Typically the two ends of the ruptured tendon are sewn back together and this repair can be augmented with a graft wrapped around the defect.

 

Although rare, if the rupture occurs closer to its attachment to the heel bone, bone anchors can be used to reattach the ruptured tendon back onto the bone.

 

Patients typically wear a cast and walking boot for 6 – 12 weeks post surgery. Physical therapy and stretching exercises are important for proper healing and most patients can return to pre-injury activities within four to six months.

 

If a ruptured Achilles tendon has been neglected, or misdiagnosed, the muscle will retract and a simple end-to-end repair of the tendon is often no longer possible. In these cases, the calf muscle can be lengthened to reattach the two ends, or a tendon transfer can be performed to reconstruct the Achilles tendon.

 

In cases where a tendon transfer is needed, the flexor tendon to the big toe is harvested and attached to the heel bone to function as the Achilles tendon.

 

 

Trust UFAI for State-of-the-Art Achilles Care

Our surgeons and physicians have decades of experience being on the forefront of diagnosing and treating ruptured Achilles tendon injuries. While we always opt for the most conservative treatment, you can be assured by the knowledge that you are being truly cared for by nationally recognized surgeons and state of the art techniques, many of which have been developed or perfected by the very same foot and ankle specialists. surgical centers if a more invasive treatment is needed.

 

Read more about other Achilles Tendon Injuries.

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