Achilles Tendonitis and Rupture

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute

Injuries to the Achilles tendon are painful and often may be debilitating. The advanced treatments available at TriHealth Orthopedic & Sports Institute can offer less-invasive repair options for injuries including minimally invasive surgery or, in some cases, no surgery.

Achilles Tendonitis and Rupture

The Achilles tendon runs along the back of the ankle, connecting the large calf muscles to the heel bone of the foot. It is the thickest and largest tendon in the body, so Achilles tendon injuries can be extremely painful and interfere with the most basic activities, including walking.

Achilles tendonitis is irritation or inflammation of the tendon, while rupture is a partial or complete tear in the tendon.

Achilles tendonitis and rupture causes

Achilles tendonitis often develops as a result of:

  • “Weekend warrior” activities such as basketball or tennis
  • Overuse or overtraining in activities such as running, especially with sudden increases in the duration and/or intensity
  • Repetitive or intense strain on the tendon

Tears to the Achilles tendon usually occur as a result of trauma from:

  • Falls
  • Overuse
  • Sports injuries

Achilles tendonitis and rupture symptoms

Achilles tendonitis symptoms may include:

  • Mild to severe ache in the back of the leg or above the heel that may worsen after activity
  • Tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning

An Achilles tendon rupture may cause symptoms in the calf, heel or both and include:

  • A popping or snapping sound when the tendon tears
  • Inability to bend the foot toward the floor
  • Inability to push off the injured leg when walking
  • Pain and swelling near the heel
  • Sudden sharp pain in the calf

Achilles tendonitis and rupture treatment

Treatment for Achilles tendonitis depends on the severity of the inflammation or irritation. Some cases may be treated with self-care, while others will require medical attention. Treatments include:

  • Medications to reduce pain and swelling such as over-the-counter ibuprofen or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Orthotic devices worn inside of shoes to elevate the heel and reduce stress on the tendon
  • Physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the tendon and surrounding areas
  • Resting the tendon

Treatment for Achilles tendon rupture depends on the severity of the rupture and other factors that may affect treatment options, such as your age and overall health. TriHealth specialists may repair the Achilles tendon using the following treatments:

  • Immobilization of the tendon with a brace or cast for approximately a month
  • Minimally invasive surgery using very small incisions to access and repair or reattach the tendon
  • Through-the-skin (percutaneous) repair by passing stitches (sutures) through the skin and connecting the ruptured ends of the tendon

Achilles tendonitis and rupture risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of Achilles tendonitis include:

  • Age—the Achilles tendon weakens with age and becomes more susceptible to injury
  • Flat arches—feet with a low or flat arch put greater strain on the tendon
  • Gender—men are more likely to develop Achilles tendonitis than women
  • Medicine—fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Running—runners who run long distances, suddenly increase their training, or wear shows without proper support have a higher risk
  • Tight calf muscles—tightness in the calf muscle can increase tendon strain
  • Weight—being overweight can put additional strain on the tendon

Factors that may increase your risk of an Achilles tendon rupture include:

  • Activities—that involve running, jumping or sudden changes in movement
  • Gender—men are more likely to rupture an Achilles tendon than women
  • Medicine—fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Steroid injections—ankle joint injections may weaken the Achilles tendon
  • Weight—being overweight can put additional strain on the tendon

Achilles tendonitis and rupture prevention

You don’t have to give up your favorite sports, but you can help reduce your risk of Achilles tendonitis and rupture by following a few guidelines, including:

  • Alternating between high-impact and low-impact activities
  • Increasing the intensity or duration of activity gradually
  • Stretching and strengthening your calf muscles
  • Warming up your calf muscles before activities

Make an appointment

Learn more about Achilles tendonitis or rupture or make an appointment with a TriHealth orthopedic specialist. Call 513 246 7846.

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