Achilles tendon rupture

A common and painful tear of the ankle tendon.

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What is a ruptured Achilles tendon?

Your Achilles tendon connects your heel bone to your calf muscles. A complete tear across the tendon is called a rupture.

It can often happen during sport or exercise that involves pushing off the ground sharply, like basketball, gymnastics, tennis, squash or badminton, especially in less conditioned athletes. It's a serious and painful injury which needs treatment.

Need to know

At the time of your injury, you'll usually feel a sudden and severe pain in the back of your ankle. There may also be a snapping or popping sound. Most people think they've been hit on the back of their ankle.

You might find the pain soon settles down into a dull ache. You may also have difficulty pointing your toes downward or standing on tip toes and experience a lack of control in your foot movements.

After a suspected Achilles tendon rupture, your consultant will take a full history of what happened, examine you fully and order an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan. You may also require an X-ray or blood tests if other conditions are suspected.

There are two main options for managing an Achilles tendon rupture, which have similar healing times and will be discussed in full with your consultant.

The first is to immobilise the tendon in a plaster cast, brace or protective boot, most likely with your toes pointed down. You'll have to use crutches and keep the weight off it for at least four weeks. It will usually take 10-12 weeks to heal fully.

The second is a surgical procedure to reattach the separated tendon ends. It will then need rest in a plaster or a protective boot as it heals. A surgical repair is associated with a slightly lower chance of re-rupture than non-operative management.

Our locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.