What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, it’s a thick fibrous tissue that runs down the back of your calf. It consists of two muscles, your gastrocnemius and soleus, and serves as the way to attach these muscles to the back of your heel. The role of this muscle or tendon is to allow you to push up onto your toes, like when you need to go up on your tip toes, walk, and push off to run and jumping activities. In combination with the hamstrings, the calf muscles help stabilize the knee joint since they start at the back of the knee.
Causes and symptoms of an Achilles tear
Achilles tears are typically caused by a forceful contraction of your gastrocnemius muscle. However, other contributing factors can be due to tightness in your gastroc/soleus muscles, weakness in the muscle, tendinitis, use of medications such as corticosteroids or formation errors within the foot itself.
Typically, when you tear the Achilles you will hear a “pop” in the lower leg. Symptoms may include:
- Pain and swelling in lower leg and ankle
- Bruising in lower leg and ankle
- Difficulty walking or weight bearing
- Inability to point toes and ankle towards you
Diagnosis and Treatment
The Thompson’s Test is good way to determine whether or not you have a tear. To perform this, you will lie on a bed on your stomach with feet hanging off. Your doctor will squeeze your calf; if there is no movement then there may be a tear. An MRI will be ordered to confirm suspicion. Depending on the severity of the tear, surgery may be required or you may be put in a removable cast/boot with crutches for up to 4 weeks until it has healed. Then Physical therapy will be prescribed.
All complete Achilles ruptures will require surgery to repair the injury in order to return function with walking, going up and down stairs, jogging etc. Followed by extensive Physical Therapy.
If you are having pain in the back of your foot or have been diagnosed with an Achilles tendon tear, please come see us for a free consultation to see how we can assist you in your recovery. To request an appointment, click here, or call directly to one of our three locations during regular business hours:
Cool Springs: 615-224-9810
Spring Hill: 931-489-2022