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. Treatment depends on the severity of the rupture.
Achilles tendon rupture can be caused by:
Factors that increase your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture include:
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include the one or more of the following:
When you are injured, apply these steps right away and seek medical help:
To help manage pain, your doctor may recommend:
Surgery is the most common treatment for this condition. The doctor makes an incision in the lower leg and sews the tendon 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 very athletic.
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.
To help reduce your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture, take the following steps:
These steps can also reduce your chance of repeat injury.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info
American Podiatric Medical Association
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 May 12, 2012. Accessed April 25, 2013.
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. April 27, 2010. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Achilles tendon rupture. EBSCO Publishing DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 18, 2013. Accessed April 25, 2013.
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 2013 by John C. Keel, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.