The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to the back of your heel bone. When your calf muscle contracts, it pulls your foot into a pointed toe position which helps us walk and run. The achilles tendon is especially springy which makes it well designed for jumping and hopping.
What are the Symptoms of An Achilles Tendon Injury?
- Pain down the back of your leg or near your heel.
- Pain that gets worse when you’re active.
- A stiff, sore Achilles tendon when you first get up.
- Pain in the tendon the day after exercising.
- Swelling with pain that gets worse as you’re active during the day.
Achilles Tendon Rupture Injury
An Achilles tendon rupture is an injury where the Achilles tendon tears fully. This can occur while playing sports like tennis or basketball while quickly stepping back and overstretching the calf. People with Achilles tendon rupture injuries will often report a sensation of being kicked in the back of the leg when it happens. There is usually intense pain, swelling near the heel, and an inability to push off or point your foot/toes downward.
Treatment – Surgery or No Surgery?
In the past decades, Achilles ruptures were operated on and stitched surgically. Recently more Achilles ruptures are being treated without surgery as the Achilles has been shown to mend on it’s own. The long term results of surgical vs non-surgical care of an Achilles rupture are similar without the potential risks that surgery may involve, such as post-operative infections, hence the recent trend to treat Achilles ruptures without surgery.
What Does Physiotherapy for an Achilles Rupture Look Like?
Scheduling an initial physiotherapy session shortly after surgery can be very helpful to answer any questions left unanswered after the specialist appointments. Your physiotherapist will also provide you with appropriate general exercises to help keep you moving and preserve your strength in your hips and core as well as prescribe range of motion, and gentle strengthening exercises for the foot, once safe to do so.
The bulk of the rehabilitation starts around the 8-12 week mark, which is when you will discontinue using the walking boot. Your physiotherapist will guide you through learning to walk properly again, and provide you with a progressive calf strengthening program which is crucial in preventing re-ruptures. Rehab from an Achilles tendon rupture are among the longer sports injury recoveries typically taking between 6-12 months to return to sports and running.
Ankle Tendon Strains
While achilles tendon ruptures do occur, the majority of conditions are usually tendon strains. These are less severe than a rupture, but may lead towards more significant injury if left unmanaged.
Book an Appointment with one of our physiotherapists to help you with achilles tendon injury.