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Achilles Tendon Rupture  
Achilles Tendon Rupture

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

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. An Achilles heel rupture leads to loss of normal function.

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Causes  

Achilles tendon rupture can be caused by:

  • Overuse
  • Overstretching
  • Overworking an inflamed tendon
  • Injury from an accident or fall
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Risk Factors  

Factors that may increase your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture include:

  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Recent increase in activity level
  • Weak or inflexible calf muscles
  • Previous Achilles tendon rupture
  • Involvement in sports that involve running, jumping, twisting, or lunging
  • Improper footwear
  • Obesity
  • Certain medications, such as quinolone antibiotics or corticosteroids, which weaken the tendon
  • Collagen vascular diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma
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Symptoms  

Symptoms may include:

  • Popping or snapping noise when injury occurs
  • Sudden, extreme pain at the back of the heel
  • Swelling near your heel
  • Inability to push off from the ball of the foot
  • Inability to walk on the affected leg
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Diagnosis  

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:

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Treatment  

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include the one or more of the following:

First Aid  

When you are injured, apply these steps right away and seek medical help:

  • Stop your activity and stay off the injured foot.
  • Apply an ice pack. Place a towel between the ice pack and your skin.
  • Wrap your injured foot and ankle in elastic bandaging. Do not wrap the bandage too tight. It may cut off circulation.
  • Elevate your foot above the level of your heart.

Medication  

To help manage pain, your doctor may advise:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)
  • Prescription pain relievers

Surgery  

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 fo