Last week we discussed the importance of the Achilles tendon. Today, we explore how it can be affected by chronic and acute damage. A healthy tendon does not rupture. If you experience a tendon rupture—either chronic or acute—this means there is an underlying condition or disease affecting the tendon.
Many factors can contribute to a ruptured Achilles tendon. The most common cause is a flexing of the back of the foot while the muscle is still engaged. Ruptures can also occur from sudden, direct trauma to the area. Or from a sudden activation of the Achilles. Some antibiotics (famously ciprofloxacin) are known to increase the risk of tendon ruptures.
You are most likely to rupture your Achilles tendon if you perform regular physical activities that strain your ankle and calf. Elite athletes are at risk, as are the elderly, and people who have experienced ruptures before. Other factors that can contribute to an Achilles rupture include being overweight, wearing high heels, and poor foot support or structure.
If you believe you have ruptured or torn your Achilles tendon, see a podiatrist right away. They will perform a physical exam and oral history to determine the cause. Radiographs may be used to check for bone spurs or other causes of pain. And MRIs are becoming more common for diagnosing Achilles tendon ruptures.
Depending on the patient’s age, lifestyle, and overall health, the ruptured Achilles may be treated in several ways. Minor ruptures in healthy persons can be healed with a cast and physical therapy. Patients may have a full cast or a brace and must remain inactive while healing continues. Over-the-counter pain medications, heel lifts, RICE, stretching, and the MLS laser are all therapeutic options for Achilles tendon ruptures. However, in many cases, surgical intervention is necessary to repair the tendon.
If you are worried about or have pain in your Achilles tendon, call the FAAWC today at 740.363.4373.