Achilles Tendon Rupture/Tear

A rupture or tear of the Achilles occurs when the tendon separates from itself. It is a fairly common sports injury, affecting athletes of all ages and abilities. An Achilles tendon tear occurs while walking or running, and may feel like being kicked in the back of the ankle. Mild to moderate pain is usually experienced in cases of minor or micro tears, but in cases of a complete tear or rupture severe pain would be experienced. In cases of extreme ruptures, a "pop"-like sensation may be felt in the heel. Swelling, weakness, and instability of the affected area are also common following a rupture. Sometimes, a small gap is visible where the rupture occurred.

A physical examination is done by an Achilles specialist to look for bruising, swelling, tenderness, proper function of the calf muscle, and a palpable gap at the sight of the rupture. Patients may be asked to flex the calf muscles and to stand on the toes of the affected leg to look for signs indicative of an Achilles tendon rupture. A MRI may be ordered to confirm and to further assess the severity of the tendon rupture.

Achilles Tear Surgery

If you have suffered an Achilles tear, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Surgery can be performed to reattach the damaged tendon, but it should be performed as soon as possible to avoid an enlargement in the gap between the parts of the tendon. Surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis with a quick return to physical activity. In fact, physical therapy will help regain muscle strength and full range of motion of the newly repaired tendon.

Watch a Real Achilles Tendon Rupture Repair Surgery

Acute Achilles Tendon Rupture Surgery

Repairing an acute Achilles tendon rupture or tear is often an outpatient procedure, but timing is critical. It is absolutely essential for a full recovery to treat the rupture prior to the enlargement of the gab between the torn tendon ends. Patients may be required to wear a cast for approximately 3 weeks to protect the surgical site and limit motion while the Achilles heals.

Acute Tear of Achilles Tendon Achilles Tendon Tear After Repair
Acute Tear of Achilles Tendon Achilles Tendon Tear After Repair

Chronic Achilles Tear

Chronic Achilles tears typically do not respond to conservative treatments and conventional surgical approaches. Often the damage is so severe that the tendon ends are completely detached from one another. This requires a thorough surgical procedure to remove the extensive buildup of scar tissue and re-attaching the ends of the tendon. Depending on the severity of the damage to the Achilles, the surgeon may need to use a tendon graft replace the damaged Achilles.

Surgical image of chronic Achilles tendon tear and scar tissue Surgical photo after removal of damaged achilles tendon and flexor hallucis tendon harvest for transfer
Chronic Achilles tear with loose and non functional achilles tendon. Flexor tendon harvest for tendon transfer to reconstruct the achilles tendon tear.
Drill hole in heel bone for flexor hallucis tendon transfer in a chronic achilles tendon tear case Chronic achilles tendon reconstruction with flexor tendon transfer to the heel bone
Drill hole in the heel bone prior to tendon transfer for achilles reconstruction. Reconstructed achilles tendon with proper alignment and tension of the tendon.