It can happen in an instant, even to well-trained and conditioned athletes – an Achilles tendon tear or rupture.
Gymnast Nia Dennis hoped to make the Olympic team but had to postpone her dream after tearing her Achilles tendon while training last year. The gymnast reported that she heard a pop and her calf got cold and tingly. Only after surgery was Dennis able to return to her competition schedule.
The Achilles tendon is the largest in the body and connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. We use this tendon every day to walk, stand, run and stand up on tip-toe.
Achilles Tendon Injuries Are on the Rise
Over the last 10 years, doctors report a 300% in this type of injury. This year about 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries will require treatment.
The fastest growing patient group for these injuries is those between ages 30 and 50 who overdo it during activities and workouts that strain the ankles and Achilles tendon. Competitive events that require participants to run over uneven ground are particularly risky. Achilles injuries are also common in running, football, basketball, tennis, gymnastics and dance.
If the injury is mild or moderate, with some pain and stiffness, rest is very important. Stay off the foot as much as possible and apply ice frequently. Don’t resume normal activities until the tendon is completely healed.
However, if the tendon is more severely damaged with a tear or rupture, you’ll need professional care. Come see us at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle if the pain is severe with swelling in the area, or if you find it almost impossible to push off with that foot or stand on your toes.
Surgery may be required for a severe rupture.
You Can Reduce Your Risk of an Achilles Tendon Injury
Often the injury occurs when a sudden movement happens too quickly. Reduce your risk of injury by:
- Choosing the right shoes for each activity and make sure they are not excessively worn out.
- During risky activities like a mud run competition, wear an ankle brace.
- While working out, if you feel any tightness or pain in your heel or calf, stop right away.
- Be sure to stretch gently both before and after exercising.
- Balance and strengthening exercises can help. Stand on one leg for 10 seconds, then repeat while alternating legs. Calf stretches can reduce stress on the Achilles tendon while strengthening the calf muscle.
A Torn or Ruptured Achilles Tendon Requires Immediate Treatment
Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to diagnose Achilles tendonitis or more serious injuries like tears or ruptures. Please come in to Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle for an examination – you can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at 727 868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at 352 683-5799. Don’t endure the pain of an Achilles tendon injury – get help today!