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Achilles Tendon Rupture

Your Achilles tendon is a large band of tissue in the back of your ankle. It connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. The tendon helps you point your foot downward, rise on your toes, and push off when you walk. You use it almost every time you move your leg. But repeated stress can make the tendon more prone to injury. It may become inflamed and develop small tears (tendonitis). A complete tear through the tendon is known as an Achilles tendon rupture.

Side view of foot on tiptoe turned slightly to side showing plantar fascia on bottom of foot attached to heel bone. Achilles tendon is attached to heel bone and muscle in calf. Posterior tibial nerve is next to Achilles tendon in ankle.

When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)

Seek medical care right away if you:

  • Hear a loud "pop" or snapping sound.

  • Have the sensation of being hit hard in the back of the leg.

  • Aren`t able to stand on your toes, bend your foot downward, or walk normally.

A ruptured Achilles tendon may NOT cause pain. If you hear a loud pop, even if you can walk and don`t have pain, seek medical attention.

What to Expect in the ER

A doctor will examine your feet, ankles, and legs. He or she is likely to ask about your physical activities. Your doctor may order tests which could include a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI). This test uses magnets to create a clear picture of the tendons.An ultrasound may also be done. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the injured area.

Your Treatment

If your tendon has ruptured, you will be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon or a primary care sports doctor. He or she will discuss your treatment options with you. These include surgery to repair the tendon or wearing a cast and using crutches until the tendon heals.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 7/13/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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