Achilles tendon rupture

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Achilles (uh-KILL-eez) tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of your lower leg. It mainly occurs in people playing recreational sports, but it can happen to anyone.

The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, it can tear (rupture) completely or just partially.

If your Achilles tendon ruptures, you might hear a pop, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg that is likely to affect your ability to walk properly. Surgery is often performed to repair the rupture. For many people, however, nonsurgical treatment works just as well.

Although it’s possible to have no signs or symptoms with an Achilles tendon rupture, most people have:

  • The feeling of having been kicked in the calf
  • Pain, possibly severe, and swelling near the heel
  • An inability to bend the foot downward or “push off” the injured leg when walking
  • An inability to stand on the toes on the injured leg
  • A popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs

When to see your doctor

Seek medical advice immediately if you hear a pop in your heel, especially if you can’t walk properly afterward.

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