Walking and running are activities that are often taken for granted. We get out of bed, shower, get the kids ready for school, and get to work, not giving a second thought to the fact that we can get so much done before the day really begins.
But if you injure your Achilles heel, even something as simple as taking a step can be painful.
What Is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon (also known as the calcaneal tendon) is the tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It’s also the largest tendon in the human body, and it allows us to walk, run and jump.
Most Achilles tendon injuries occur while a person is playing sports, although this type of injury could happen to anyone.
Achilles Tendon Tears and Ruptures
When overstretched, the Achilles tendon can either rupture partially, or become completely severed. Tears are more likely to occur when a person suddenly increases the intensity of physical activity, forcefully jumps, or falls from a high level.
They are also often the result of Achilles tendinitis, which is when the tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse. If not treated properly, it could result in an Achilles tear or rupture.
Additionally, the Achilles tendon can become weak with age or from lack of use, leaving it more prone to injury.
What Are the Symptoms of a Torn Achilles Tendon?
It’s impossible not to notice a torn Achilles tendon. This is because, when torn, the patient usually hears a popping sound, followed by an immediate shooting pain in their calf.
In addition, the patient will experience the following symptoms:
- The calf feels tender
- Inability to stand on toes
Can You Walk on a Partially Torn Achilles Tendon?
A patient suffering from a partially torn Achilles tendon will have difficulty walking since that tendon is necessary for the foot to efficiently push off the ground. Depending on the severity of the injury, they may be able to walk, awkwardly. However, the pain will increase if walking uphill or up a flight of stairs. If the tendon is fully torn, they won’t be able to push off the ground to take a step.
If the patient is physically fit, it might be possible for them to eventually walk normally on a partially torn Achilles tendon. However, they still should take the time necessary to treat and heal the injury before attempting to walk. They shouldn’t try to tough it out by waiting for the pain to go away on its own. This could lead to complications such as infections, permanent nerve damage, deformation of the site of injury, and an increased likelihood of reinjury.
What Are the Risk Factors for an Achilles Tendon Tear or Rupture?
Some of the most common contributors to this type of injury include the following:
- Playing recreational sports
- Failing to follow a reasonable training plan (e.g. suddenly increasing intensity)
- Gender (the injury occurs more often among men)
Treatment for Achilles Tendon Tears and Ruptures
There are different treatments for an Achilles Tendon tear or rupture. The best treatment for you depends on several factors, such as the severity of the injury, the likelihood of re-rupture, and your lifestyle.
Some of the possible treatments include:
- RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Low impact exercises
- Physical therapy
If the injury is minor, it’ll heal on its own provided the patient follows home remedy instructions. If the injury is more severe, surgery is usually an option when:
- Other forms of treatment have not worked.
- Symptoms are getting worse instead of better.
- The patient leads a particularly active lifestyle.
Generally speaking, people who are used to having more active lifestyles tend to choose surgery so they can get back to doing the things they love without limitations. Surgery involves stitching the torn portions of the tendon back together. Afterward, the patient undergoes physical therapy for four to six months before they’re able to resume their pre-injury activity level. That being said, the medical provider may advise continued physical therapy, since chronic pain may be an issue, even after the patient feels strong enough to return to their normal lifestyle.
Meanwhile, older patients or people with a more sedentary lifestyle tend to opt for more conservative treatment.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At the Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’ve suffered from an Achilles Tendon tear or rupture, let us help you get back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.