Traditionally, Achilles tendon tears have been treated with surgery. More recently, some research has shown that surgery may not be necessary to achieve good results. Learn about Achilles tendon tears, and what can be done about these injuries.

Surgery may not always be necessary for Achilles tendon rupture…

Often considered standard treatment for Achilles tendon ruptures, a recent study found that patients who didn’t have surgery often did just as well as those that did.

The Achilles tendon is the large tendon in the back of your ankle.  The Achilles connects the calf muscles to the foot, and when these muscles contract, the Achilles points the foot downwards.  This motion is important in walking, running, and many sports.

Surgery is often considered the standard treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture.  During surgery, the torn ends of the Achilles tendon are sutured together.  A recent study found that patients treated non-surgically had similar results to those treated with surgery.  This goes to show that not everyone needs surgery for an Achilles rupture.

If you have an Achilles tendon rupture, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of different treatment options. An Achilles tendon tear occurs when the tendon attaching the calf muscle to the heel is completely torn. This is a common injury, most often seen in middle-aged male weekend warriors! 🙂

Symptoms of a Torn Achilles Tendon

An Achilles tendon tear, or rupture, is a traumatic injury that causes sudden pain behind the ankle. Patients may hear a ‘pop’ or a ‘snap,’ and will almost always say they feel as though they have been kicked in the heel (even though no one has kicked them). Patients have difficulty pointing their foot downward, and may have swelling and bruising around the tendon.

Your doctor/physical therapist will examine the ankle for continuity of the tendon. A defect in the Achilles tendon can often be felt after a tear. Squeezing the calf muscle should cause the foot to point downwards, but in patients with a torn Achilles tendon, the foot will not move (this will cause positive results in diagnosing an Achilles tendon tear.  X-rays may be performed to evaluate for other conditions including a fracture of the ankle.

Risks that May Causes a Torn Achilles Tendon

About 15 to 20% of patients have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis prior to sustaining an Achilles tendon tear, but the vast majority of patients have no history of prior Achilles tendon problems. Over 75% of Achilles tendon tears are associated with playing ball sports…. Tennis, soccer, basketball.

Treatment for Achilles tendon rupture

  • Ultrasound for site of the tear – this will break down scar tissue and promote healing
  • Complete rest and use of walking aids
  • Deep tissue massage on the calf, Achilles tendon and foot – once healing has begun and pain has subsided
  • This is a slow healing injury, be prepared for time out from sport and general activity.  Once treated correctly and with time, patience and the right rehabilitation, you will eventually get back to your normal exercise regime.

* It is advised that in the more serious cases, surgery will have to be performed to reattach the tendon to the main bulk of the calf muscle!  See your GP for referral. *