Achilles Tendon Tears in Athletes

Oct 20, 2023

Understanding Achilles Tendon Tears

The Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, plays a crucial role in our mobility. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, allowing us to walk, run, and jump. However, this tendon is also vulnerable to injury, especially in athletes. Achilles tendon tears, a common sports injury, can significantly impact an athlete's performance and lifestyle.

 Achilles tendon
Examination after Achilles Tendon Tear

Causes of Achilles Tendon Tears

Achilles tendon tears often occur due to sudden increases in stress on the tendon. This can happen during activities that involve sudden starts or stops, such as tennis or basketball. Other risk factors include tight calf muscles, flat feet, and wearing high heels frequently, which can shorten the tendon.

Overuse and Degeneration

Overuse of the Achilles tendon can also lead to a tear. Athletes who suddenly increase their training intensity or duration are at a higher risk. Over time, repeated stress on the tendon can cause it to weaken and deteriorate, making it more susceptible to injury.

overuse injury
Achilles Tendon strain after slipping off of a curb

Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Tear

When an Achilles tendon tear occurs, the symptoms can be immediate and noticeable. Athletes often report a sharp pain in the back of their ankle or calf - often described as a "pop" or "snap". Other common symptoms include swelling in the back of the leg, difficulty walking, and a gap or depression where the tear occurred. Coincidetally, many people report having no pain with this injury!

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of an Achilles tendon tear typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI. The treatment for a torn Achilles tendon often depends on the severity of the tear and the patient's overall health.

diagnosis treatment
Heel Lifts after Partial Achilles Tendon Tear

Non-surgical Treatment

Non-surgical treatment options include rest, physical therapy, and using a walking boot or cast to immobilize the tendon. Treatment can also consist of Laser Therapy and Shockwave Therapy. These treatments can help reduce pain and swelling and promote healing.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment, on the other hand, involves stitching the torn tendon back together. Innovative techniques offer minimally invasive ways to repair at torn achilles with decreased post-op hgealing timeframe. This option is often recommended for athletes or individuals who lead very active lifestyles, as it typically results in a lower re-rupture rate and better overall strength.

Prevention Tips

While it's not possible to completely prevent an Achilles tendon tear, certain precautions can reduce the risk. These include regular stretching and strengthening exercises, gradually increasing the intensity and duration of workouts, and wearing proper footwear.

  1. Regular stretching: Keeping the Achilles tendon flexible can help prevent injuries.
  2. Gradual training: Avoid sudden increases in workout intensity or duration.
  3. Proper footwear: Shoes that support the arch and cushion the heel can reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.
prevention tips
Bike Riding after Achilles Tendon Tear

In conclusion, an Achilles tendon tear is a serious injury that requires immediate attention and treatment. By understanding the causes and symptoms, athletes can contact Dr. Harrison at 240-437-3861 and seek prompt treatment and take steps to prevent future injuries.