Achilles Tendon Rupture Recovery

What is Achilles Tendon Rupture?

There’s a strong, fibrous cord in our lower legs that connects our calf muscles with our heels. It’s called the “Achilles tendon”. It’s, in fact, the largest tendon in the human body. It’s also the most injured tendon. Overuse and injuries can cause partial tendon tears. A full-scale tear is medically known as an Achilles tendon rupture. This painful injury can happen to anyone, be it a professional athlete or someone going about their everyday life. In most cases, tough physical activities cause this injury.

For example, if you pivot your foot in an odd and fast way, your Achilles tendon can snap. What follows is hours of pain and swelling in the heel area. Injury victims are also unable to walk or bend their feet downward. Mild pain or stiffness in this region of the leg means you have a partial tear in your Achilles tendon. If the pain is severe and burning, it may be completely ruptured.

This condition can be classified into two categories :

1. Insertional Achilles Tendinitis - Mainly impacts the part of the heel that meets the tendon. It causes severe pain in the lower region of the heel and can also cause bone spurs.

2. Non-Insertional Achilles Tendinitis – The central regions of the tendon start swelling and breaking down. The fibers in these regions of the tendon start getting thicker and ultimately tear apart.

Plan Consultation

Toe Walking For Working The Leg And Calf Muscles | Physiotattva

There’s a strong, fibrous cord in our lower legs that connects our calf muscles with our heels. It’s called the “Achilles tendon.” It’s, in fact, the largest tendon in the human body. It’s also the most injured tendon. Overuse and injuries can cause partial tendon tears.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Rupture

  •  Achilles Tendon Rupture symptoms are pain and stiffness above the heel. Patients are unable to stretch their ankles or stand on their toes. In many cases, the fibers of the Achilles tendon heal on their own, and the pain becomes milder over time. Or, the pain keeps getting worse until the tendon ruptures, causing a snapping or Achilles Tendon popping noise.
  • A "pop" or snap feeling: Many people report hearing a "pop" or feeling a snap at the back of their heel or ankle when the tendon ruptures.
  • Pain: There can be severe pain at the back of the leg, between the heel and the calf, especially immediately after the injury. The pain may decrease after the initial injury period.
  • Swelling and bruising: The area around the Achilles tendon Rupture symptom may become swollen and bruised.
  • Difficulty walking: Walking, especially pushing off the affected leg or walking up stairs, can be difficult and painful. There may be an inability to stand on tiptoe on the injured side.
  • A gap or depression: Sometimes, you might feel a gap or depression in the tendon, just above the heel bone. Patients who experience  Achilles Tendon Rupture pains/symptoms must seek immediate medical attention and have their Achilles tendons diagnosed. Or else, this condition almost always worsens with time.

Causes of Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles tendon rupture is often the result of a combination of factors that put excessive stress on the tendon. Common causes and risk factors include:

  • Sudden Increase in Physical Activity
  • Sports Participation
  • Falling or Stepping into a Hole
  • Direct Trauma

When to See a Physiotherapist for Achilles Tendon Rupture?

Anyone who experiences the aforementioned symptoms should visit a licensed physiotherapist. Some patients attempt to treat their ruptures at home. Doing that for a short time is okay. Home remedies like soft stretching or placing ice cubes on the sorest area of the Achilles tendon to reduce swelling are great.

However, Achilles tendon injury victims often require pain-relief medicines to help with the unbelievable amounts of discomfort they experience. Avoiding such steps and overstressing the body can lead to unnecessary additional damage. That’s why visiting an experienced physiotherapist as quickly as possible to learn about Achilles tendon repair is vital.

Key Risks and Complications of Achilles Tendon Rupture

Achilles tendon rupture is a significant injury affecting mobility and quality of life. The risks associated with an Achilles tendon rupture include both the immediate consequences of the injury itself and the potential complications arising from treatment, whether surgical or non-surgical. Here are some of the key risks and complications associated with an Achilles tendon rupture:

  • Re-rupture: One of the most significant risks following an Achilles tendon rupture is the chance of re-rupture. This risk can vary depending on the treatment method, with non-surgical treatment options generally having a higher re-rupture rate than surgical intervention.
  • Infection: Surgical repair of an Achilles tendon rupture carries a risk of infection at the surgery site. While this risk is relatively low, it can lead to complications affecting healing and recovery.
  • Nerve Damage: There is a risk of nerve damage, particularly to the sural nerve, during surgery for Achilles tendon repair. This can lead to numbness or changes in sensation in the foot.
  • Blood Clots: Immobility following an Achilles tendon rupture and subsequent treatment can increase the risk of developing blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These clots can be dangerous if they travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
  • Weakness and Loss of Function: Even after treatment, individuals may experience weakness in the affected leg, which can affect their ability to return to previous levels of activity, including sports and exercise. Loss of function and reduced range of motion can also occur.

Complications from Nonsurgical Treatment

1. Financial Impact

Cost: Long-term treatments, medications, and therapies can become financially burdensome over time.

Insurance: Coverage issues may arise, leading to significant out-of-pocket expenses for ongoing care.

2. Psychological Effects

Mental Health: Chronic pain and long-term treatment without definitive resolution can lead to depression, anxiety, and stress.

Quality of Life: Reduced mobility or ongoing pain can significantly impact daily activities and overall quality of life.

Complications from Surgical Treatment

  • Infection and Wound Healing Issues

The risk of infection following surgery which is a concern with any surgical procedure. It could also cover complications related to wound healing, such as delayed healing or wound dehiscence (reopening of the wound).

  • Nerve Damage or Neuropathy

The potential for nerve damage during the surgical repair of the Achilles tendon, which can lead to numbness, tingling, or loss of function in the affected area.

  • Blood Clots and Venous Thromboembolism

There is a risk of developing blood clots in the veins, particularly deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can occur after surgery due to immobilization. It could also cover the risk of these clots traveling to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE).

  • Ankle Stiffness and Reduced Range of Motion

Achilles tendon ruptures can lead to stiffness in the ankle joint and a reduced range of motion. It might include information on the likelihood of this complication and strategies for prevention and treatment through physical therapy.

How to Prevent Getting Achilles Tendon Ruptures?

The risk of suffering from this injury varies with age. Generally, the older you are, the likelier your tendons will rupture. The shape of the patient’s feet and the intrinsic design of their calf muscles and tendons also play important roles. Some people are just born with faulty Achilles tendons. General health also plays a part.

If you’re someone who regularly stretches and exercises while following all safety protocols, you’re less likely to experience this condition. Healthy eating, stretching, and engaging in strength and flexibility exercises are all important steps individuals can take to avoid this terrible injury.

Treatments for Achilles Tendon Rupture

People who suffer from this condition have two treatment options - surgical and non-surgical. Both treatment options are available after the physician or physiotherapist officially diagnoses the patient of partial or full tendon rupture. Non-surgical procedures include - wearing casts, using customized boots that point the toes down, wearing heel wedges, and using crutches. Surgical procedures include – traditional, open surgeries and semi-open surgeries (Percutaneous Achilles Repair System - PARS)

How is a ruptured Achilles tendon treated?

A ruptured Achilles tendon can be treated either surgically, to reattach the torn ends, or nonsurgically with rest, immobilization, and physical therapy, depending on the injury's severity and patient's lifestyle.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon involves immobilization with a cast or walking boot, followed by physical therapy to strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles gradually.

‍Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon involves stitching the torn ends together, often followed by immobilization, then physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility. Post-surgical rehabilitation for a ruptured Achilles tendon includes gradual weight-bearing activities, stretching, strengthening exercises, and possibly orthotic support to aid recovery and prevent re-injury.

Related Conditions

Some other injuries that commonly occur in the Achilles tendon are Retrocalcaneal Bursitis, Achilles Tendinopathy, and Peritendinitis. Seeking expert medical attention to treat each of those injuries is highly important. Some of the exercises for the Achilles tendon are:

  • Heel Raises while sitting, Two legs
  • Calf Raises two legs
  • Star Excursion Balance Exercise
  • Tip Toe Walking
  • Sit-down Chair Squat

When should I call the doctor?

Call the doctor if you experience sudden, severe pain in the Achilles area, hear a pop or snap, cannot walk properly or stand on your toes, or if swelling and bruising occur.

Why Physiotattva?

Choosing PhysioTattva for Achilles Tendon Rupture offers access to specialized physiotherapists skilled in treating this specific injury. Their approach combines personalized rehabilitation programs, advanced therapeutic techniques, and state-of-the-art equipment to facilitate effective healing, strength restoration, and flexibility improvement, ensuring a comprehensive recovery process tailored to each patient's unique needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long is the recovery period?
After any type of tendon tear surgery, patients have to wear special walking boots or casts for six to twelve weeks. That’s how long it takes for the Achilles tendon to heal. Choosing the right mobility device increases the chances of faster recovery. Patients should expect to spend ten months before returning to normalcy.
2. What happens if I get an Achilles tendon repair surgery?
These one-day surgeries have very high success rates. Patients experience some pain after the surgery, but the recovery period is faster.
3. How to test whether I have a tear in my Achilles tendon?
Physicians conduct the “Thompson test” to verify tears in the tendon. Patients must not try out this testing process at home as it may worsen their conditions.

Book an Appointment

Log online and fill out our online registration page and get to book an appointment with us at PhysioTattva.
It is super easy and less time-consuming.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related Blogs

No items found.

Book an Appointment

Log online and fill out our online registration page and get to book an appointment with us at PhysioTattva.
It is super easy and less time-consuming.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.