The Achilles tendon tear is a type of injury affecting the back part of the lower leg. People who are engaged in recreational sports will likely suffer from a torn Achilles tendon. The injury is marked by a tearing or snapping sound when it happens, subjecting the sufferer to great deal of discomfort caused by the injury. People with a torn Achilles tendon find that they cannot bear their full body weight on the affected foot and notice some swelling on the affected area.
The treatment for Achilles tendon tear helps in relieving the associated symptoms, allowing the affected individual to walk properly. Doctors will recommend the most suitable treatment method based on the severity of the tear.
When does the Achilles tendon become torn?
Achilles tendon can tear for the following reasons:
The Achilles tendon becomes weak as a person grows old.
Some drugs can contribute to the weakness of the Achilles tendon to make it more susceptible to tears. An example is a direct steroid injection which increases the chances for an Achilles tendon tear.
- Trauma or physical injury
This is the primary cause for tears sustained by the Achilles tendon.
Who are prone to get Achilles tendon tear?
Some individuals are more vulnerable to sustain a torn Achilles tendon than others. These people have the risk factors of Achilles tendon tear which include:
- Men, especially those between 30 and 40 years old
- Receiving steroid injections to relieve the pain caused by an inflamed ankle joint
- Engaging in some form of recreational sports such as jumping, running, tennis, basketball and soccer
- Taking certain types of antibiotics
- Sudden increase in physical activity
- Insufficient stretching prior to exercising
- Frequent wearing of high heels
- Feet problems such as flat feet or fallen arches
- Very tight muscles
- Running uphill
- Uncomfortable and ill-fitting footwear
What do people with torn Achilles tendon feel?
Most people suffering from Achilles tendon tear will experience a variety of symptoms such as swelling and severe pain near the heels, lack of ability to stand on their toes using the injured leg, as well as bending it forward to walk. They will also hear a snapping sound by the time the injury occurs. Sufferers will also feel some tenderness, stiffness and swelling on the affected area. They should consult the doctor upon hearing the snapping sound or experience the aforementioned symptoms in order to receive immediate treatment.
How is an Achilles tendon tear diagnosed?
The doctor will consider a lot of factors when diagnosing an Achilles tendon tear. This primarily involves getting the medical history of the patient as well as that of his or her family. The doctor will also check the affected area, looking for gaps over the heel, swelling and tenderness indicating an Achilles tendon tear. The O’Brien test as well as the magnetic resonance imaging or MRI may also be conducted.
How is an Achilles tendon tear treated?
There are a number of ways for treating a torn Achilles tendon. Treatment plans are chosen based on the extent of the tear, the age of the patient and the level of physical activity. A torn Achilles tendon can be treated through:
- Non-surgical procedure
People who are advanced in age will likely be treated through non-surgical method which requires them to wear a walking boot or cast outfitted with a wedge that makes the heel slightly elevated. This treatment method is not only effective in treating a torn Achilles tendon but also a great way to avoid the risks that come with surgery. Recovery may take longer and re-rupture of the tendon may also occur.
- Surgical procedure
Active and younger people will likely choose surgical procedure in treating an Achilles tendon tear. This involves opening the back part of the lower leg and suturing the torn Achilles tendon together. Surgical procedures involving small cuts have low infection rates but still, complications may occur such as nerve damage and infection.
Both treatment procedures for torn Achilles tendon are equally effective. The patient will have to undergo a rehabilitation program following the surgical or non-surgical procedure to toughen the Achilles tendon and leg muscles. He or she can engage in his/her former level of physical activity after 4 to 6 months.
What can be done to prevent an Achilles tendon tear?
Several things can be done to prevent having a torn Achilles tendon, and these involve:
- Stretching the Achilles tendon and leg muscles prior to and after engaging in any form of physical activity, especially for those with tight tendons and muscles.
- Wearing footwear with excellent support
- Slowly increasing one’s physical activity
- Refraining from exercising when the back of the heel or calf has tightened or is quite painful
- Cutting down on running uphill
An Achilles tendon tear is a common occurrence among people who are engaged in physical activities. The injury causes a great deal of pain due to the torn and inflamed Achilles tendon. One should visit the doctor immediately to receive the appropriate and timely treatment to alleviate the pain as well as to restore the ability to walk properly.