What is the Achilles Tendon?
The tendon that runs from your calf muscle at the back of your lower leg and inserts in at the back of the heel is known as the Achilles tendon.
Total achilles tendon rupture sometimes occurs following a history of inflammation or degeneration of the tendon but nearly always results from a sudden event. This can be pushing off hard on the toes or suddenly bending the foot upwards. It is a more common injury in older men who are recreational athletes.
The symptoms of an achilles tendon rupture includes a sudden intense pain at the back of the lower leg; There may be a bang or popping noise; It will be impossible to stand on tip toes; There may be a gap in the tendon; Swelling.
The first thing to do is to rest with the leg in an elevated position whilst applying cold therapy and compression to reduce swelling. Apply ice for 10-15 minutes at a time, every 1-2 hours initially. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
A Doctor or sports injury therapist will be able to diagnose the condition. The decision can then be made whether to operate on the tendon to repair it, or whether to allow it to heal naturally. In either case the ankle will be placed in a cast or splint with the foot pointing down to reduce the stretch on the achilles and to allow it to heal. The degree of stretch is gradually increased as the tendon heals.
Following an achilles tendon rupture you can expect to be out of action for around 6 months, sometimes 9. A rehabilitation programme should be followed after the immobilisation period which works on increasing the flexibility of the calf muscles and the strength and balance too.
Cold therapy should be applied immediately and regularly for the first few days. This can be in the form of a cold pack or an ankle cold wrap. A neoprene or elasticÃÂ ankle support may help to support the ankle and provide compression to reduce swelling.