Achilles tendon rupture

The Achilles tendon is one of the strongest tendons in the human body. If it ruptures, you can usually hear a clear snapping sound. Achilles tendon ruptures usually affect amateur athletes between the ages of 30 and 60. Fully torn tendons generally require surgical reconstruction.

The tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone in the foot is called the Achilles tendon. It is one of the strongest tendons in the human body. However it can still tear during certain movements, such as jumping. Signs of wear and tear can also develop with advancing age. Furthermore, diseases like diabetes and rheumatism can promote tendon degeneration and frequently lead to chronic Achilles tendon problems. Amateur athletes aged between 30 and 60 are particularly at risk. The chances of suffering a tear are especially high if the tendon is not sufficiently warmed up and stretched before exercising or playing sport.

An acute Achilles tendon rupture causes an audible snapping sound, which is typically followed immediately by very strong pain. Skin dimpling appears above the heel and there might be bruising. The person will no longer be able to walk on their toes or bend their foot downward and ‘push off’ the injured leg when walking.

Doctors are usually able to make a definite diagnosis based on what has happened and the resulting symptoms. An ultrasound examination is generally carried out to precisely determine the extent of the tear. Often x-ray imaging is also used to identify any avulsion fractures in the nearby bones. An MRI examination will reveal if the tendon is only partially torn.

Partial tears can be healed using conservative treatment that involves immobilising and resting the foot. Patients are also required to wear splints or special shoes. If the tendon has torn completely and the two ends of the tendon are no longer touching, then it must be surgically reconstructed.

Tendon injuries can be prevented by doing warm up and stretching exercises before and after sporting activities, as well as by avoiding abrupt movements.