The Achilles tendon is a thick rope-like structure at the back of the heel and ankle. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone (calcaneus), and helps move the foot and ankle in walking, running, jumping, and other standing activities. If the tendon is over stretched, it can tear. Achilles tendon ruptures occur most commonly in athletes, especially in sports that involve running, jumping, and cutting motions. It can also occur as a result of a fall or taking a wrong step on an uneven surface. It is most common in men, 30- 40 years old.
People with an Achilles tendon tear often report a “pop” in the back of the ankle when the injury occurs, and severe sharp pain in the back of the ankle with any weight bearing or walking. Also, they notice swelling and difficulty with pointing the toes and foot down. Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be treated conservatively with a cast or walking boot. If severe, it may need to be treated with surgical repair.
Physical therapy can help recovery after either casting or surgical repair for Achilles tendon rupture. A physical therapist will evaluate the ankle, including range of motion, strength, quality of motion, and functional ability. Physical therapy treatment will include hands-on treatment to relieve soft tissue restrictions of the calf, lower leg and foot, and improve ankle mobility. It also includes specific therapeutic exercises and activities to improve strength of the ankle, foot, and the leg as a whole. There are also different taping techniques to relieve swelling and relieve soft tissue tightness. Various modalities such as cold pack, compression, and electrical stimulation are often used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. As symptoms improve, we include functional activities to help with return to sport training and future injury prevention.
If you are experiencing symptoms that sound like this and want to know more, come see us at InMotion OC for a FREE consultation for Physical Therapy.