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Overview:

Achilles tendon injury may affect the back of lower leg which mainly occurs in people who are playing recreational sports, but it can happen to anyone.

The Achilles tendon is a strong band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and is also called the calcaneal tendon. If in case overstretch Achilles tendon, it can rupture completely or just partly. The movement bears us to stand on toes when walking, running, or jumping.                        

Risk Factors for Achilles Tendon

Below factors that may increase risk of Achilles tendon rupture includes:

Age: The topmost age is 30 to 40 years.

Sex: Five times more occur in men than in women.

Obesity: Extra weight puts more strain on the tendon.

Recreational sports: These injuries occur more often during sports that involve running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops (i.e. soccer, basketball and tennis).

Steroid injections: Injected steroids into an ankle joint to reduce pain and inflammation. 

Certain antibiotics: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, (i.e. ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin)) which increase the risk of Achilles tendon rupture.

 

Causes for Achilles Tendon Injury

These injuries tend to occur when you suddenly start moving when you push and lift your foot instead of when you land. For example, a sprinter could get one at the start of a race when he exits the starting block. The abrupt action may be too much for the tendon to handle. 

It usually occurs in the segment of the tendon situated within about 6 centimeters of the point where it attaches to the heel bone. This section might be lying to rupture because blood flow is poor, which also can impair its ability to heal.

These things can also make you more likely to have this type of injury:

 

  • If youWear high heels, which can stress the tendon.
  • You have “flat feet”, also called fallen arches. This means that when you take a step, the impact causes the arch of your foot to collapse, stretching your muscles and tendons.
  • Leg muscles or tendons are too tight.

 Signs & Symptoms

An Achilles tendon rupture, most people have:

  • Pain and swelling near the heel
  • The feeling of requiring jerked in the calf
  • An inability to bend the foot downward or push off the injured leg when walking
  • Inability to stand on the toes on the injured leg
  • A sound when the injury occurs

 Diagnosis

During the physical exam, physician will inspect lower leg for tenderness and swelling and might be able to feel a gap in tendon if ruptured completely.

The doctor might ask to kneel on a chair or lie on your stomach with feet hanging over the end of the table. People might then squeeze your calf muscle to see if your foot will automatically flex.

For Achilles tendon injury whether complete rupture or only partially ruptured doctor might order X- ray of the ankle joint or an ultrasound or MRI scan which are painless procedures and create images of the tissues of body.

 Treatment

Treatment for a ruptured Achilles tendon depends on age, activity level and also the severity of injury. 

Younger and more active people, particularly athletes, tend to choose surgery to repair a completely ruptured Achilles tendon, while older people are more likely to choose for nonsurgical treatment.

Nonsurgical treatments 

Minor and moderate Achillis injuries heal by itself. But following measures will speed up the healing:

  • Rest the leg. Avoid putting the weight on the leg. You may use crutches.
  • Compress the leg by using elastic bandage
  • Raise the leg
  • Applying ice to that area
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Use heel lift. Prevent the ankle from moving for the first few weeks, usually with a walking boot with heel wedges or a cast, with the foot flexed down.
  • Streching and strengthening exercises.

 

Surgical Treatment

The surgery mainly done by making an incision in the back of the lower leg and attaching the torn tendon. Depending on the condition of the torn tissue, the repair may be reinforced with other tendons.

 

Complications can be infection and nerve damage. Minimally invasive procedures have lower  infection rates than those of open procedures.

 

  Prevention

  • Stop the uphill run.
  • Wear well-supported shoes that fit well.
  • Stop exercising if you feel pain or tightness in the back of your calf or heel.