An Achilles tendon rupture affects the back of the lower leg, between the ankle and the calf muscle. Ruptures of the Achilles Tendon mainly occur during recreational sports injuries, but it can still happen to anyone.

The Achilles tendon exists as a strong, fibrous cord of tissue that connects the calf muscles on the back of the leg to heel bone. If you overextend the Achilles tendon, it may tear completely or only partially.

Patients who tear their Achilles Tendon usually report hearing a pop, followed by a sharp pain on the back of their lower leg that affects their ability to walk properly. Surgeons often need to operate in order to repair the tear. For many people, however, conservative treatment can work just as well.

Symptoms of a Ruptured Achilles Tendon

Although some patients report having no symptoms with an Achilles tendon rupture, most people experience:

  • Feeling an impact around the calf area
  • Swelling and intense pain near the heel
  • A loss of the ability to bend the foot down, or “push off” when walking
  • An inability to stand on the ball of the foot, “tip-toe”
  • A snapping sound during the moment of injury

When to seek medical attention

Seek out a doctor immediately if you hear a “pop” from your heel, especially if you have difficulty walking afterwards.

Causes of an Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon helps pull the heel upwards, which pushes the front of the foot downwards. You will need the achilles tendon to rise on your toes and push off your foot as you walk. Everyone heavily relies on their achilles tendon basically every time they walk and move their foot.

A tear often occurs in the section of the tendon situated 2 1/2 inches away from the point where it attaches to the calcaneus, or heel bone. Physicians speculate this section might rupture more often due to poor blood flow, which also can impair its ability to heal properly.

Sudden increases in stress on the Achilles tendon often lies at the source of Achilles Tendon Ruptures. Common examples include:

  • Increasing the level of participation in sports, especially in intense sports that require jumping
  • Falling from a great height
  • Unexpectedly stepping into a hole or onto a corner