The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles, it can tear or rupture and cause severe disability. These tears happen frequently to athletes who are pushing off the ground to cut in the opposite direction.
Achilles tears happen often to athletes in their 30s and 40s, but can happen at any age after puberty. Tendonopathy can predispose people to tears.
- Popping or snapping sound when the tear occurs
- Swelling near your heel
- Inability to bend your foot down or "push off" the injured leg when you walk
- Inability to stand on your toes on the injured leg
The key to treating an Achilles tear is to treat it early.
Conservative treatment involves wearing a cast or walking boot to elevate your heel and allow the torn tendon to heal. Experiencing another tear is possible and a second injury could make surgical repair more difficult.
Surgical repair involves stitching your torn tendon back together.
Rehabilitation to strengthen your Achilles tendon and leg muscles is important whether a non-surgical or surgical approach is selected. Most people return to their former level of activity within four to six months.