Achilles Tendon Rupture
By Matt Paulus, MS, ATC, Site Coordinator
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon present in the body and spans from the heel to the middle of the lower leg. Its function is to attach the calf muscle, which is comprised of the two heads of the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle, to the heel bone called the calcaneus.
These structures combine to allow for the ankle to perform the movement of plantar flexion, or pointing your foot away from you. Plantar flexion has a major role in standing on your tiptoes, pushing off to run, or landing from a jump.
Achilles Tendon Injuries
Despite the size and strength of the Achilles tendon, it is prone to injury. This is due to the high amount of stress on the tendon because of its inherent function. Certain conditions can increase a person’s risk of serious injury. The effect of aging can weaken the tendon, as well as chronic tendinopathy from disuse or poor gastroc-soleus muscle length. A torn Achilles tendon is an injury that can result from a weak muscle and can be a partial or full tear (most common).
Mechanism of Injury to the Achilles Tendon
Typical mechanisms of injury include a sudden change of direction, requiring a push-off, or landing from a jump. In this condition, the ankle goes into dorsiflexion, resulting in high-tensile forces. Resulting in the tendon failing. Common signs and symptoms involve a sudden onset of severe pain (feeling a kick in the back of the leg), an audible “pop”, swelling/bruising, and severe weakness in the ankle. Seeking medical advice immediately is important, as early intervention typically improves the outcome.
JOI Fracture and Injury Care
JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904) JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. Finally, to learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.