The Achilles tendon is a band of thick tissue that connects your calf muscle to the heel bone. This tendon performs an important function allowing you to stand on your toes when walking, running, or jumping. While the Achilles tendon is very strong, it has a poor blood supply and experiences high tension. For this reason, it is vulnerable to injuries, particularly rupture.
Below are answers to 5 frequently asked questions about Achilles tendon rupture that can help you better understand this condition.
1. What causes Achilles tendon rupture?
The Achilles tendon performs an important function. You rely on this tendon every time when you walk and move your foot. Because of the poor blood flow, some sections of the Achilles tendon are prone to rupture and are difficult to heal. Because of a sudden increase in pressure or stress, this tendon can simply rupture. This often happens during high-intensity workouts, jumping, falling from high, or stepping in a hole.
2. What are the symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture?
In some cases, people with Achilles tendon rupture don’t have symptoms. But most patients experience the following symptoms:
Popping sound at the time when an injury occurs
Heel swelling and bruising
Severe pain in the heel
Inability to move the injured leg when walking
Difficulty standing on the toes of the injured leg
If you heard a popping sound when the injury occurred or have severe heel pain after an injury, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Try to not move your leg to prevent further damage to the tendon.
3. What are the risk factors for Achilles tendon rupture?
Some factors can increase your risk of getting the Achilles tendon rupture. One of the major risk factors is your age. Because of age-related wear and tear, the tendon may become weaker and more prone to rupture. Your workout routine also plays a role. People engaged in high-impact sports that involve running or jumping are many times more prone to Achilles tendon rupture. Obesity also puts excessive stress on the Achilles tendon and can increase your risk of rupture.
Certain medications may also increase the risk of tendon rupture. If you previously have had steroid injections in your ankle joint, surrounding tendons can be weakened because of the steroid effect. Weak tendons are a major contributing factor to Achilles tendon pain and rupture. Some antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin also make your tendon more susceptible to rupture.
4. How to prevent Achilles tendon rupture?
The best way to decrease your risk of Achilles tendon rupture is to stretch and strengthen your calf muscles. This helps to increase the amount of force and stress your muscles and tendons can absorb without damaging the Achilles tendon. Besides, vary the exercises in your workout routine. If you regularly participate in high-impact sports, vary it with low-impact activities like walking or swimming. This prevents you from Achilles tendon overstraining.
If you are a runner, be sure to choose the right surface. Running on hard or uneven surfaces can overstrain your Achilles tendon and increase the risk of traumatic falls. Besides, be sure to choose shoes with proper cushioning in the heels. If you are an athlete, avoid increasing the intensity of your workouts rapidly. An abrupt increase in training intensity is one of the main causes of Achilles tendon rupture in athletes.
5. What are the treatment options for Achilles tendon rupture?
In most cases, the treatment of Achilles tendon rupture begins with RICE therapy. Resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the affected leg often help relieve the symptoms and speed up the healing process. Your doctor may also recommend you taking anti-inflammatory medications to relieve inflammation and promote healing. If your injury is severe, the doctor may recommend surgery to repair a rupture.