The Achilles tendon is an important structure at the back of the heel that joins the calf muscle to the foot. It enables you to push off when you walk. It is most commonly injured during sporting activities but you have the potential to injure it it whenever you ‘push off’ with your foot. People who have this injury often describe a feeling of being hit it the back of the heel.
What should I do if I think I have an Achilles tendon rupture?
If you think you have had this injury you should seek urgent medical attention and avoid walking on the injured foot. You should go directly to an Urgent Care Centre or A&E and if they feel you have a rupture you will be given crutches and a form of splint to keep your foot pointing down. You should also be given medication to prevent clots in the calf whilst you are unable to walk.
Will I need an operation?
Not all Achilles Tendon injuries will require an operation. You will undergo either an MRI or an Ultrasound scan of your Achilles tendon to determine the degree of injury and this will help in deciding the best treatment for you.
Partial Tear – If the tendon has only a partial tear, or the tendon ends are in a good position, it may be possible to avoid surgery. The treatment in this case, would be wearing an orthopaedic boot with wedges, which are gradually removed over a six to eight week period. You will be able to walk in the boot during this period. This form of treatment is called Functional Rehabilitation.
Complete Tear – If the tendon is completely torn and there is a significant gap between where the tendon ends, you will normally be offered an operation to repair the tendon. Sometimes, if there are reasons that make an operation high risk such as other medical problems, Functional Rehabilitation may still be the better choice for you.
It is quite common for young and sporty patients to opt for surgical management regardless of the position of the tendon edges.
As a patient of Grosvenor Orthopaedic Partners we will offer honest guidance on the best treatment for your individual case.
How long will it take to recover?
The rehabilitation from an Achilles tendon rupture is a lengthy process regardless of the type of treatment you have. Once you have come out of a boot, around the eight to 10 week mark, there is still a long way to go until you start forgetting about your injury.
You will need to work hard with a physiotherapist to rebuild the strength in your calf muscle and your confidence. The aim for rehabilitation is that you can comfortably perform a single heel raise on the injured side at six months following your injury.