(65) 64712744|info@boneclinic.com.sg

Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body.  It is crucial in transmitting forces responsible for walking, running and various other activities.  An injury or tear within the Achilles tendon can cause substantial pain and limitation due to its importance in these daily activities.

Anatomy:

The Achilles tendon is made up of the tendons of the gastrocnemius muscle and soleus muscle, which make up the largest muscles within the calf.  It inserts at the back of the calcaneus (heel bone) and many of the tendon fibers can extend further underneath the heel.  Tears of the Achilles tendon can be partial tears, which only involve a portion of the tendon or complete tears.   Most often a tear occurs in the mid-portion of the tendon, often referred to as the “water shed” area due to its limited blood supply.   It is the limited blood supply that can make Achilles tendon tears challenging and can take an extended length of time to heal.

Etiology:

Tears of the tendon are often a result of indirect trauma.  Overload forces exceed the tensile strength of the tendon which results in tearing of the tendon fibers.  Complete ruptures most often occur in individuals between 30 and 45 years of age with the majority of injuries sustained during sporting activities.  Tendon tears are can also in patients with systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, chronic hemodialysis and many others.  Other factors correlated with potential Achilles tendon tears are steroid use, fluoroquinolone antibiotics and previous injury to the tendon.

Symptoms of Torn Achilles Tendon:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Loss of strength
  • Palpable gap in tendon

Diagnosis:

  • The most crucial step to diagnosis of Achilles tendon tears is a thorough and detailed physical examination.   Patients may not experience complete loss of strength in many instances.  Because of this and the swelling in the area, up to 20% may be missed on initial presentation.  A delay in treatment can have long lasting effects on the overall outcome and thus emphasizes the importance of being evaluated by a foot and ankle physician in a timely manner.
  • Radiographs may be taken to rule out other associated injuries.  To fully evaluate the extent of Achilles tendon injury, an ultrasound, or more often, an MRI will be performed.   This allows the physician to visualize the extent of tendon injury and determine the best treatment plan.

Treatment:

  • Treatment will vary depending on the extent of tendon tear, duration the tear has been present, and the patient.  An acute, complete rupture of the tendon requires surgical intervention.  This is typically done by re-approximating the torn ends of the tendon to allow for appropriate healing.  For the best function results, the repair should occur within one week in order to avoid retraction of the tendon ends.  Unless the patient is relatively sedentary, cast immobilization as the primary treatment of an Achilles tendon rupture should be avoided due to the increased risk of re-rupture, decreased strength and sub-optimal functional results
  •  Achilles tendon tears that are not treated for longer than 4 weeks are considered chronic.  Because of the delay in treatment, the tendon ends are become retracted and cannot be repair like an acute rupture.   Chronic Achilles tendon ruptures are typically repaired surgically and involve more extensive tendon transfers, flaps or grafts.  After surgical intervention, patients are immobilized in a cast for 2-3 weeks, followed by a transition to a walking boot.    It is essential to try to begin strengthening of the tendon as quickly as possible to avoid weakening.  This needs to be done carefully by trained physical therapist who understand the recovery protocol of Achilles ruptures.

Read more about Achilles Tendon Pain

Stop the pain and get your Achilles Tendon Checked. Call +65 6471 2744 (24 Hours) or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg

Achilles Tendon Pain

Achilles tendon pain occurs when there is an irritation or an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon joins the heel of the foot to the calve muscles. It is the largest tendon in the body, and is thick enough to support the entire body weight. Any rupture (small or big), inflammation, or injury to it causes pain while walking or running, as the tendon has to bear nearly eight times an individual’s body weight during a sprint or a run.

Causes of Achilles Tendon Pain
There are numerous reasons why Achilles tendon can inflame. A common cause is the advancing age, where it becomes less flexible, and more susceptible to injury. It can also be caused due to excessive shearing and stretching forces placed on the Achilles tendon, resulting in inflammation and tightening of the calf muscles.

Footwear contributes heavily to tendon irritation. Ill fitting shoes or high heels force the feet to be confined in less space, shortening the Achilles tendon, leading to an increased tension to the Achilles tendon. Shoes that have excessive heel cushioning for greater shock absorption, stretch the tendon, as absorption of shock sinks the shoe more frequently when the heel makes contact with the ground. Mechanical abnormalities and misalignment such as misshapen foot or heel bones, unequal leg length, short or tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles, weak calf muscles, all lead to placing excessive stress on the tendon, making it prone to injuries and pain. Athletes who increase their training duration with more powerful movements during exercises also experience Achilles tendonitis.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Pain
The most common symptoms associated with Achilles tendon is the searing heel pain experienced over the back of the heel. This occurs because the tendon gets pushed on the heel bone. It causes tenderness around the tendon and in some extreme cases there is an occurrence of a localized nodule filled with a small sack of fluid on the tendon. For most people suffering with Achilles tendon pain, walking during early mornings, or a long period of inactivity is the most painful time. A sudden sprint, or a jumping activity also results in a lot of pain. A slight swelling around the heels and sometimes around the calf muscles are also an exhibited symptom of Achilles tendon pain.

Prevention and Treatment of Achilles Tendon Pain
Preventing the condition of the Achilles tendon pain is simple. Avoiding any activity that places stress on the tendon is the simplest preventive measure. Treatment includes therapy as well as medications. A therapeutic approach includes rest and immobilization. Together, it will help reduce the swelling and inflammation on the tendon. To reduce swelling and increase the flow of blood around the tendon, one can apply an ice pack several times a day. Avoid giving heat treatment, and wearing thick warm socks (unless medically recommended). Heel relaxing products such as arch supports, heel cups, etc. inserted into the shoes, are used to minimize the stress on the Achilles tendon. Many physical therapists recommend stretching and rehabilitation program to increase the flexibility of the Achilles tendon. Medications mostly include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications along with painkillers, or in severe cases cortisone injections are administered.

Achilles tendon pain is a very painful condition, which can hamper the course of a normal life. A constant painful tendon leads to rupture, and in extreme cases an individual is rendered immobile for days. Prevention can help many avert the condition of painful Achilles tendon.

Stop the Pain and get your Ankle checked today!  Call +65 6471 2744 for Appointment or Email to: info@boneclinic.com.sg