I just felt a pop in the back of my ankle while running–Did I tear my Achilles?
The most common presentation of an Achilles tendon rupture is a sensation of being kicked or shot in the back of the ankle while running or playing a sport. Pain and limp occur immediately although the pain is typically not severe. However, a tear of the calf muscle can feel quite similar and is a much milder injury.
How do I know what I damaged?
Diagnosing an Achilles tendon rupture and distinguishing it from a calf strain is a straightforward process in our office. Through physical examination and immediate ultrasound in our office, we can make the diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
What is the treatment for an Achilles rupture?
There are acceptable methods of treating these both surgically and nonsurgically. Casting and bracing along with therapy can achieve very good results in most patients. Traditional teaching of higher re-rupture rate and lower strength with nonsurgical treatment has been questioned recently; however a comprehensive rehab program is necessary and return to high-level athletics may be delayed.
Surgical treatment is favored for our high-level athletes. This is an outpatient surgery in which a small incision is made on the back of the leg and the tendon is directly repaired. At MCO, we use a high-strength Kevlar suture technique that generally allows patients to use a brace only rather than a cast and begin walking within several weeks. Irritation of one of the nerves to the foot and wound healing problems are the most common problems seen with surgical repair; with our meticulous treatment of the tissues, in our experience this is rare.
When can I return to sports?
With surgical repair, a return to sports is generally feasible within 6-8 months although it may take up to a year to feel as though you are at your previous level of explosiveness and strength.