Achilles Tendon Rupture: What you need to know.

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Achilles Tendon Rupture: What you need to know.

Just over a week ago, I was playing in a friendly parent-daughter soccer match with my daughter’s team of 15 year-olds.  As my daughter raced toward me dribbling at full speed, I lunged to challenge her.  As I stepped forward, I felt like someone had kicked the back of my ankle.  When I turned around to see no one there, I knew the diagnosis: Achilles tendon rupture. The feeling of sudden pain was exactly the way many patients I’d seen in the clinic had described it.  I was a textbook case.  Patients are usually male, between the ages of 30-50 and typically injured trying to relive glories of days gone by playing sports like basketball, soccer or tennis.  Check, check and check.  Here are some things you should keep in mind if you or a weekend warrior you know experiences that sudden pain:

  1.  Do not put weight on your foot.  Achilles tendon injuries require a fairly lengthy period of non-weight bearing.  Get help, hop, grab a crutch….do whatever you can to stay off the affected leg.  Most patients will be off their feet for 4-6 weeks.
  2. Keep your toes down.  Your Achilles tendon is part of a muscle group that helps to plantarflex your foot, as when you stand up on your toes.  Keeping the tendon in a shortened position is a key part of healing in the early phases.  That will allow the torn fibers to heal.
  3. Follow the RICE principle. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
  4. Get to a hospital.  The sooner you are able to stabilize the foot in a planterflexed position, the better.

Although many people think that surgery is required, non-operative management is becoming more the treatment of choice for orthopedic specialists.  In either case, complying with a consistent course of supervised physiotherapy is an essential part of the healing process.  Return to full function usually takes anywhere from 6 – 12 months depending on your activity level so patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to this type of injury.  Thankfully, the long term prognosis is excellent, with re-rupture rates very low in both surgical and non-surgical patients.  If you or someone you know is ready to start physical therapy after an Achilles rupture (like me!), consider giving us a call.  We’ll help ensure your road to recovery is a smooth one!

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