Achilles Tendon

Plymouth Orthopaedic and Sports Injury Clinic

 The Achiiles Tendon is the largest tendon in the body.  It tamsmits large forces from the strong muscles at the back of the calf, to the heel bone.  It is therfore responsible for the majority of power in the foot when walking, running or going up on tip toes.

 

Achilles Tendonopathy

This condition is dealt with in the section on heel pain.

 

Achilles Tendon Rupture

 

This is a common injury, and can be caused by a sporting injury, but equally can happen during more ordinary activity.  It is usually associated with sudden severe pain, sometimes an audible snap and a feeling that something or someone has chopped you in the back of the lower leg.  Squash players who suffer this sometimes think their oponent has struck them with the racquet!

Diagnosis

This can usually be made clinically.  It is important not to miss the diagnosis, since delayed treatment is much more difficult than early treatment. In cases of doubt and ultasound scan will define what is going on.

Treatment

For the last twent five years or more there has been a debate as to whether this injury is best managed non-operatively  with immobilisation in a plaster/boot, or whether it is best to treat surgically, with repair of the tendon.

Either way there is usually a period of six weeks immobilisation followed by physiotherapit supervised rehabillitation.  

Your surgeon will discuss the options with you.  The latest published evidence suggest than non-operative treatment may be the best. However, we await the next paper which will probably contradict this!  It is probably true to say, that most orthopaedic surgeons would choose to have surgical repair if they suffered this injury!