Achilles Tendon Injuries
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body. It connects the muscles in the back of your lower leg to your heel bone (the calcaneus) and must withstand large forces during sporting exercises and pivoting. There are two main types of injuries that affect the Achilles tendon: 1) overuse and inflammation, called Achilles Tendonitis, and 2) a tear of the tendon.
Because other symptoms may be present, it is best to see your doctor for full evaluation of an Achilles injury. Treatment depends on severity and typically involves rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) to relieve pain and inflammation. An orthosis (a brace) may be needed to relieve the stress on your tendon and support your ankle, or bandages may be applied to restrict joint movement.
Surgery is sometimes an option to repair any tears and remove any inflamed or fibrous (toughened) tissues. Recovery in general includes rehabilitation to avoid future weakness in your ankle.
Surgery is typically needed for a complete rupture. After surgery, your ankle will be kept stable in a cast or walking boot for up to 12 weeks. A torn ligament may also be managed nonsurgically with a below-knee cast, which would allow the ends of the torn tendon to heal on their own. This nonsurgical approach may take longer to heal, and there is a higher chance that the tendon could re-rupture. Surgery offers a better chance of full recovery and is often the treatment of choice for active people who wish to resume sports.
If you suspect that you have signs or symptoms of an achilles tendon injury, please see your doctor for further evaluation and discussion of treatment options.