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Achilles tendon rupture

A common and painful tear of the Achilles tendon

About

Your Achilles tendon connects your heel bone to your calf muscles. A complete tear across the tendon is called a rupture. It usually happens during sports that involve pushing off the ground sharply, like basketball, tennis, squash or badminton, especially in less conditioned athletes. It's a serious and painful injury which needs treatment.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture icon plus

    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.
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    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.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    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. Surgical repair is associated with a slightly lower chance of re-rupture than non-operative management.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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