Signs of a Ruptured Achilles Tendon

A ruptured Achilles tendon can be a severe, debilitating injury. It most commonly occurs in adults, often middle-aged individuals described as weekend warriors. The injury may happen during sporting activities (basketball, racket sports, running, etc.) but can also occur with a significant misstep during everyday activities. Patients often experience a sudden pop in the back of their ankle and feel as though they were hit in this region although they were not. Significant swelling may present soon after and while some patients may be able to bear weight, the ability to push off on the ankle is lost. These ruptures are most commonly complete ruptures although on occasion, partial ruptures may occur.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Treatment Options

Partial ruptures of the Achilles tendon may be more amenable to conservative treatment, and while complete ruptures are commonly treated surgically, conservative treatment is also a viable option for many patients. With surgical treatment, the likelihood of a re-rupture of the Achilles tendon is decreased and the length of recovery with casting and rehabilitation may be diminished as compared to non-surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatment has the obvious benefit of avoiding potential complications related to surgery, most importantly, that of infection. These concerns as well as a history of smoking, desired activity level, age, and other factors are important in making the most appropriate treatment decision for each patient.

Ruptured Achilles Tendon Recovery

Surgical treatment involves a single small incision on the back of the ankle directly over the Achilles tendon at the site of the rupture. This incision may be particularly small (needle puncture) if a percutaneous technique is utilized. The tendon ends are sewn together and after surgery, once the incisions are healed, ankle motion is encouraged as soon as possible in order to maximize strength and function and decrease scarring. Weight bearing is allowed in a boot at around four weeks and a return to a regular shoe is seen at 10 to 12 weeks. A wedge is often utilized in the shoe to help protect the Achilles tendon during recovery, and continued improvement and increased strength may be expected for up to a year.

Ruptured Achilles Tendon Treatment in Chicagoland

If you have symptoms of a ruptured achilles tendon, please contact Dr. Vora – an Illinois-based orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist – by calling 847-247-4000.