Achilles injuries are common and, in most cases, do not require surgery or very aggressive treatments. We treat a lot of student athletes in our office and Achilles tendonitis is a common problem sports injury. Repeated jumping and stop and go running can cause an inflammation in the Achilles which is a long tendon that attaches your calf muscles to your heel bone.
We can usually treat Achilles tendonitis with rest, laser therapy, custom orthotics for support and maybe some physical therapy. In most cases, patients don’t need surgery. However, a less common foot problem in student athletes is a ruptured Achilles tendon. A ruptured Achilles is a very painful and includes a tear or rupture in the Achilles tendon and will usually require surgery to repair.
Basketball Player with Ruptured Achilles
An basketball player came into our office after playing his finals. He said that he felt a pop in the back of his leg like someone hit him with a baseball bat. After falling to the floor, he had to leave the game and his parent brought him into the office in in the morning. His parents tried to ice the injury, hoping it was simple sprain. However, he could not put weight on the ankle without a ton of pain.
Diagnosing a Ruptured Achilles Tendon
The x-rays were negative for bone injury, I performed a physical exam. exam I noticed that the patient had a palpable delve in the back of his calf where the Achilles is located. This was determined to be an Achilles tendon rupture. The patient was then sent for an MRI and proved to be very significant and would require surgery!
The patient had a primary Achilles tendon repair. The recovery is usually 8-12 weeks but for a student athlete to be able to come back to the game 100%, they are usually advised to stay out for the season. We don’t want to rush the recovery or risk a lifelong injury.
Signs of a Ruptured Achilles:
- Sudden snap or pop in the back of the calf or heel
- Not being able to put any pressure on foot
- Not being able to stand on toes
- Swelling, bruising and immense pain
Don't Wait to Get Treated
Most Achilles tendonitis injuries can be treated without surgery. If your child hears a pop or feels like a rubber band snapped in their Achilles (the back of their heel) or they cannot stand and put pressure on the foot- you need to see a doctor. Do not try to push through pain!