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Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon, which connects your calf muscle to the heel bone, is at the back of your ankle. It allows you to bring your foot down, stand on tip-toe, and propels you forwards when you’re walking or running.

Achilles ruptures (tears) happen to about 1 in 8,000 people who are involved in competitive sport, and are more common in people aged 30-50. A rupture of the Achilles tendon means there is no connection between the heel bone and the muscles in the back of your calf.

What causes a rupture?

Ruptures are usually caused by training too intensively when the tendon is not strong enough or by sudden stress, for example during a fall if the foot is forced upwards. Older people are more likely to be affected, as well as people who’ve had Achilles tendinopathy. Other risk factors include:

  • Having been prescribed steroids over a long period of time
  • Having had steroid injections near the tendon
  • Some antibiotics can also make the Achilles tendon weaker if they are taken over a long period of time
  • Having a condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or lupus

What are the signs of Achilles tendon rupture?

  • In most cases, people experience sudden pain in the back of the ankle, sometimes accompanied by a snap
  • Many describe the sensation as like being kicked in the back of the leg
  • It’s difficult to walk as you are less able to push off the ground on the side where the tendon is ruptured
  • The tendon swells, becoming bruised, and you may be able to feel a gap where the tendon is torn
  • However, in some cases, the rupture may not cause much pain

Seeking medical advice as soon as possible can make the rupture easier to treat, with a better long term result. However, not having the right treatment early on can mean the tendon heals incorrectly, leading to permanent weakness in the calf and affecting your ability to run, or even walk.

How is Achilles rupture diagnosed?

During your first appointment with Mr Heidari, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss how the rupture happened and any symptoms you are experiencing. He will usually carry out a physical examination and, if necessary, arrange either an MRI or an ultrasound scan.

What does treatment involve?

Not everyone with Achilles tendon rupture needs to have surgery. However, Mr Heidari will be able to advise you about whether or not you need to have Achilles tendon repair surgery.

This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.