Bodyworks: Achilles Rupture

Symptoms
It’s hard to miss a rupture or break of the Achilles tendon (TA). You’ll feel an acute pain, possibly hear a noise as loud as a gunshot, feel faint and a little clammy and find that you cannot stand properly on your toes.

Signs
You’ll probably find that the area swells or has visible blood under the skin, and that a Thompson’s Test (in which the doctor squeezes your calf while you lie face-down with your lower leg hanging off the couch) won’t produce foot movement. The break in your tendon may fill with blood, so it may be harder to feel than you might expect.

Medical investigations
A soft-tissue X-ray or ultrasound scan will confirm the break in the tendon.

What else could it be?
There is no real alternative diagnosis.

Self-treatment
Don’t even try!

Medical treatment
There is debate as to whether surgical repair is preferable to encasing your lower leg in plaster of Paris, which allows fibrous healing of the tendon to occur before rehabilitating it. The answer lies in the personal preference and experience of your doctor.

Can you run through it?
Not a hope, though some lightweight plaster and special boots may allow a little walking.

Recovery time
At least six weeks in plaster and probably a minimum of four months to rehabilitation and a return to normal training. However, the process can sometimes take years rather than months.