The Achilles tendon is a large ropelike band of fibrous tissue in the back of the ankle that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is the largest tendon in the human body. When the calf muscles contract, the Achilles tendon is tightened, pulling the heel. This allows you to point your foot and stand on tiptoe. It is vital to such activities as walking, running, and jumping. A complete tear through the tendon, which usually occurs about 2 inches above the heel bone, is called an Achilles tendon rupture.
The Achilles tendon can grow weak and thin with age and lack of use. Then it becomes prone to injury or rupture. Achilles tendon rupture is more common in those with preexisting tendinitis of the Achilles tendon. Certain illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes, and medications such as corticosteroids and some antibiotics can also increase the risk of rupture. Tendon ruptures typically occur after age 30 and more often in people beyond middle age. Mechanism of injury usually involves eccentric loading on a dorsiflexed ankle with the knee extended when the soleus and gastrocnemius is on maximal stretch. The Achilles tendon has no true synovial sheath, but rather is covered only by a paratenon, edema from synovial fluid would not be expected to occur.
You can treat an Achilles tendon rupture with surgery or by using a cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that will keep your lower leg immobilized. Both surgery and immobilization are usually successful. Another rupture is less likely after surgery than after immobilization. But immobilization has fewer other risks. The success of your surgery depends on many things, including how badly your tendon is damaged, how soon after your rupture you have surgery, and how soon you start and how well you follow a rehabilitation program. If you are younger or are physically active in sports, at work, or at home, surgery is often advised. If you are older or are inactive, immobilization is often advised.
Think you might be suffering from an Achilles rupture or pain? We can help. If you are located in the Monmouth/Ocean county area, make an appointment today at Affiliated and Foot and Ankle Center located in Howell NJ to have one of our foot and ankle specialists help care for your painful Achilles injury.