The Achilles tendon is a large band of fibers in the back of the ankle that connects the calf muscle with the heel. It is responsible for movement of the foot up and down and walking on toes. The Achilles tendon can be torn completely or partially.
Common causes of Achilles tendon injury
The main cause of injury to the Achilles tendon is a sudden increase in load due to:
- Increased physical activity,
- A high fall
- Incorrect foot positioning on an uneven surface or a trip.
What are the symptoms of Achilles tendon injury
The Achilles tendon rupture is usually associated with the following symptoms:
- Severe pain radiating to the heel,
- A bruise on the heel,
- The inability to walk on the injured leg,
- Difficulty in flexion of the toes downwards,
- A characteristic sound of a ‘pop’ at the time of the breaking of the tendon.
What should I do in case of Achilles tendon injury
- Do not load the injured leg
- rest and limit the amount of movement
- Cool the area with an ice pack
- Use compression bandages (elastic)
- Try to keep the leg up above the heart
- Contact your doctor
How to diagnose an Achilles tendon injury
An Achilles tendon injury is diagnosed after the interview with the patient, clinical assessment and a series of physical tests. Diagnostic imaging is also useful. An X-ray can exclude any fracture within the joint. An Ultrasound and Magnetic Resonance allow to diagnose if the tendon is completely or partially ruptured.
How can you treat an Achilles tendon injury?
Surgery: The most common method of treatment is surgery. The doctor makes a small incision in the back of the lower leg and sutures the Achilles tendon. Depending on the type of the injury, you may need to reinforce it with another tendon. After surgery, the patient usually wears a cast or brace for 6-8 weeks. It is also necessary to begin early and continuous rehabilitation.
Conservative treatment: plaster elevation to create the conditions for ligament healing. This prevents the risks associated with surgery, however, the treatment lasts much longer, and the risk of a re- rupture of the Achilles tendon is high.