An Achilles rupture is the separation or tearing of the Achilles tendon. most often caused by a sudden, forceful motion that stresses the calf muscle.
A rupture most often occurs in sports such as basketball, racquet sports (including tennis), soccer and softball. However, this can happen during a range of activities, from an intense athletic activity to simple running or jumping. Achilles tendon rupture is most often caused by:
- Sudden, forceful motion that stresses the calf muscle, especially in middle-aged adults.
- Overstretching the tendon during any activity when the tendon is already damaged because of Achilles tendinopathy or another condition.
- Previous corticosteroid injections (in the past, a common treatment for overuse tendon injury). Corticosteroids can weaken or break down tendon tissue, making it more likely to rupture.
Depending on whether the Achilles tendon injury is a full or partial tear, symptoms may include:
- A sudden, sharp pain that feels like a direct hit to the Achilles tendon. There may be a pop when the rupture occurs, and swelling and bruising may follow.
- Heel pain, which may be severe.
- Not being able to go on tiptoe
Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture includes:
- Rest and anti-inflammatories, to reduce pain and swelling.
- Surgery, to reattach the torn ends of the tendon.
- Immobilization with a cast, splint, brace, walking boot or other device, to prevent movement of the lower leg and ankle, allowing the ends of the Achilles tendon to reattach and heal.
- Physical therapy, for stretching/strengthening.