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
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
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:
- 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. Don't wrap the bandage too tight. It may cut off circulation.
- Elevate your foot above your heart.
To help manage pain, your doctor may recommend:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)
- Prescription pain relievers
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.
During rehabilitation, you will:
range-of-motion exercise. Often these will focus on the body as a whole.
Progress to weight-bearing exercises using support devices, such as a walker
Most people can return to normal activity in 4-6 months.
To help reduce your chance of getting Achilles tendon rupture, take the following steps:
- Do warm-up exercises before an activity. Cool down with ice to the area.
- Wear proper footwear. Consider heel lifts.
- Rest if you feel pain during an activity. Avoid activities that cause pain.
Change your routine. Switch between high-impact activities and low-impact activities.
- Strengthen your calf muscle with exercises.
These steps can also reduce your chance of repeat injury.