In case of Achilles tendon rupture, the Achilles tendon, which is the strongest tendon in the human body, tears. The Achilles tendon contributes to movements during which the foot is raised towards the knee, for example, pushing off the foot while walking or running. Achilles tendon rupture can cause different symptoms.
If the Achilles tendon tears, patients often feel a stinging pain in the heel. Sometimes they literally hear the tendon rupture with a loud popping sound. The Achilles tendon rupture is often accompanied by bumps and swellings at the base of the Achilles tendon. Affected persons are not able to tiptoe anymore. It may also entail weakness of the lower leg. Walking may be only possible with restrictions.
Symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture in short:
Often athletes suffer from an Achilles tendon rupture. Before the Achilles tendon tears, they may have suffered from pain in the heel or the area around the Achilles tendon. Normally, the Achilles tendon does only rupture after previous damage. Sports activities necessitating quick turnarounds like soccer, football or handball can increase the risk. Especially men at the age of 30-50 seem to be mostly affected. Achilles tendon rupture can occur at this age if sports activities have been resumed at the same level despite a long abstinence.
In case of an assumed Achilles tendon rupture, a comprehensive orthopedic examination is carried out often accompanied by imaging procedures like ultrasound or MRI.
If the orthopedic examination has not proven rupture of the Achilles tendon, an ultrasound examination can be conducted during which the foot can be moved. An MRI examination does also prove its existence and can help differentiate different ankle injuries.
The best method to differentiate between different injuries is MRI. MRI enables us to visualize very different structures during one examination like muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones. If it is necessary, we do also apply a well-tolerated contrast agent to improve the visibility of certain structures.
If the Achilles tendon rupture was not caused by sharp objects cutting through it, it can be treated conservatively or surgically. In case of conservative therapy, the foot is immobilized using cast, splint or orthesis for several weeks in changing positions. After that, physiotherapy and strengthening of the muscles of foot and leg follow. This therapy is suitable to persons who rarely perform sports activities and whose torn endings of the Achilles tendon touch each other in tiptoe position.