The Achilles tendon represents the common tendon attachment of 3 muscles from the leg: the medial gastrocnemius, the lateral gastrocnemius, and the soleus muscle. The Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone (or calcaneus) of the foot. Tears of the Achilles tendon are usually the result of a sudden injury associated with running or jumping activities. Usually there is no history of previous pain in this area but occasionally patients may report a history of chronic pain in the back of the calf or heel prior to the tear.

Patients who sustain an Achilles tendon rupture usually report the sudden onset of pain in the back of the calf and often report hearing or feeling a “pop”. The pain usually subsides gradually with time, but swelling and bruising typically ensue in the days following the injury. Patients also report pain and weakness with attempted walking or pressing the foot down (as if “stepping on a gas pedal”).
Achilles tendon tears are usually diagnosed by a combination of the patient’s history and the findings on physical examination. X-rays are frequently obtained to rule out other injuries. An ultrasound examination performed in the office will confirm the diagnosis. Occasionally an MRI scan may be used to confirm the diagnosis and determine whether the tear is a partial tear or a complete rupture.
The treatment of Achilles tendon ruptures depends upon the age, health, and activity level of the patient as well as the extent of the tendon injury (ie. partial tear versus complete rupture). For less active patients, and those with medical problems which preclude safe surgery, non-surgical treatment is recommended. In addition for patients with partial tears representing less than 50% of the tendon thickness, non-surgical treatment is typically recommended initially. Non-surgical treatment consists of icing, anti-inflammatory medications, casting, activity modifications, physical therapy, and a gradual return to activities as tolerated.

For most active, healthy patients with complete tendon ruptures or partial tendon ruptures which represent more than 50% of the tendon thickness, surgical treatment is recommended. Surgical treatment is ideally performed within 2 weeks from the date of the initial injury before the tendon and muscle begin to scar and shorten and make reattachment it to its native position more difficult. Surgery consists of repairing the ruptured tendon edges back to each other with stitches.

At Oceana Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, Dr. Aboka brings added expertise in the non-operative and surgical management of Achilles Tendon Tears, utilizing the latest in minimally invasive protocols, and putting you back on the way to recovery quickly.