What is an Achilles tendon tear or rupture?
The calf muscles join together near the ankle and form a single fibrous tendon cord. This tendinous cord is the Achilles tendon that attaches to the calcaneus (heel bone). The Achilles tendon is primarily responsible for lifting the heel off of the ground. When the foot is suddenly pushed upward in certain maneuvers, the Achilles tendon can partially or completely tear away from its attachment site on the heel bone. In some cases, the Achilles tendon rupture can occur in the middle portion of the tendon causing the tendon to split into two separate parts. Athletes that participate in high-endurance sports, such as tennis, basketball, skiing, and/or snowboarding, have the highest likelihood of sustaining an Achilles tendon tear or rupture. Individuals with a suspected Achilles tendon rupture typically report heel pain and reduced push-off strength.
What is the treatment for an Achilles tendon tear or rupture?
Patients with partial Achilles tendon tears that do not interfere with performing normal daily activities may benefit from non-surgical therapies alone. Non-surgical treatments are tailored to the patient’s specific needs and usually include some combination of shoe wear adjustment (sometimes a CAM boot is required), activity modifications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and a physical therapy program. In select cases a biologic injection such as platelet rich plasma (PRP) can be trialed to help with the healing of a partial tear.
Surgical intervention is usually the recommended treatment to restore the full function of the Achilles tendon. Surgical repair of the Achilles tendon is accomplished by suturing the torn tendon ends back together and, in some cases, reattaching the tendon back to the heel bone. Dr. Benedict Nwachukwu, orthopedic ankle specialist serving Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York City, and surrounding New York boroughs is highly trained and experienced in performing Achilles tendon repair and/or reconstruction surgery.