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Achilles Tendon Rupture

Let’s understand Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles Tendon Rupture

What is Achilles Tendon Rupture ?

An Achilles tendon rupture is when the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, tears either partially or completely. This can be a sudden and painful event, often occurring during activities that involve quick, forceful movements like running or jumping.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes.

What are the Causes?

Achilles tendon rupture can occur due to several factors. Engaging in high-intensity sports or activities that put a lot of strain on the tendon, such as basketball, soccer, or tennis, where quick changes in direction and jumping are common, can lead to rupture.
Direct impact or awkward landings from falls or trauma can tear the tendon, and even a simple misstep can result in a rupture, especially if the tendon is already weakened.
Over time, the tendon can degenerate due to age or overuse, making it more prone to injury. This degeneration is particularly common in middle-aged adults who may not engage in regular physical activity but suddenly take up intense exercise.
Wearing improper footwear that does not provide adequate support, especially during physical activities, can contribute to increased stress on the Achilles tendon.
Sudden changes in activity level, such as going from a sedentary lifestyle to intense physical activity without proper conditioning, can place undue stress on the tendon.
Additionally, poor conditioning, including a lack of flexibility and strength in the calf muscles, can increase the risk of tendon rupture. Proper conditioning and warm-up exercises are essential to maintain tendon health.

What are the Symptoms?

Recognizing the symptoms of an Achilles tendon rupture is crucial for timely treatment:

A Popping Sound:

Many individuals report hearing a distinct pop or snap at the moment of injury. This sound is often described as sudden and alarming, similar to the sensation of being kicked or struck in the back of the leg.

Severe Pain:

Intense, sharp pain is felt immediately at the back of the ankle or calf. The pain can be excruciating and is typically localised to the area just above the heel.

Swelling:

Rapid swelling develops around the ankle or lower leg soon after the injury. The swelling can cause the area to feel tight and may be accompanied by a noticeable bulge.

Difficulty Walking:

Individuals often experience trouble pushing off the injured foot or standing on their tiptoes. This difficulty arises because the Achilles tendon is crucial for transmitting the force from the calf muscles to the foot, enabling walking and running.

Bruising:

Visible bruising often appears around the affected area, indicating internal bleeding and trauma to the tissues.The bruising can spread over a large area, making the injury look more severe.

Weakness:

There is noticeable weakness in the injured leg, making it hard to perform everyday tasks. The affected leg may feel significantly weaker compared to the uninjured one, impacting activities like climbing stairs or standing up from a seated position.

These symptoms collectively indicate a serious injury that requires prompt medical attention to prevent further damage and facilitate proper healing.

Treatments

Non-Surgical Treatment includes immobilisation where a cast, brace, or walking boot is used to keep the foot and ankle stable, allowing the tendon to heal and physical therapy exercises designed to strengthen the calf muscles and improve flexibility

Surgical Treatment for Achilles Tendon Rupture

Surgical Repair

Surgical repair involves stitching the torn ends of the Achilles tendon back together. This procedure is typically performed under general or regional anaesthesia. An incision is made at the back of the lower leg to access the torn tendon. The surgeon carefully stitches the ends of the tendon together to restore its continuity and function.

When It’s Recommended?

Surgical repair is often recommended for individuals who are active or wish to return to high-demand activities, such as athletes or those engaged in physically demanding jobs. It is also preferred for younger patients and those in good overall health to ensure a more reliable and quicker recovery.

Benefits:

Surgical repair can provide a stronger and more durable repair of the tendon, reducing the risk of re-rupture. Patients often experience a quicker return to normal activities and a more predictable recovery timeline compared to non-surgical treatment. The procedure aims to restore the original length and tension of the tendon, improving functional outcomes and allowing a return to pre-injury levels of activity.

Risks and Considerations

Like any surgery, Achilles tendon repair carries risks such as infection, nerve damage, and complications related to anaesthesia. There may be a risk of wound healing problems, especially in individuals with diabetes or other conditions that affect circulation. Post-surgical scar tissue can sometimes cause discomfort or limit range of motion.

Post-Surgical Management

The leg is typically immobilised in a cast or boot for several weeks to protect the repaired tendon. Gradual weight-bearing is introduced as healing progresses, often guided by physical therapy. A comprehensive rehabilitation program is essential to restore strength, flexibility, and function to the affected leg. Full recovery and return to high-demand activities can take several months, with many individuals resuming normal activity levels within 6 to 12 months.Keeping up with check-ups to monitor your progress and avoiding high-impact activities until you’re fully healed to prevent re-injury.

Recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture can take time—often several months. Patience and dedication to your rehabilitation program are key to regaining full function and returning to your favourite activities. Remember, listening to your body and working closely with healthcare experts who will ensure the best outcomes on your road to recovery.

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Dr.Foo Gen Lin_Apex Sports Clinic