Achilles Tendon Rupture - Symptoms and Signs

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What are Achilles tendon rupture symptoms and signs?

Background history

  • Patients with an Achilles tendon rupture will often complain of a sudden snap in the back of the leg. The pain is often intense.
  • With a complete rupture, the individual will only be ambulate with a limp. Most people will not be able to climb stairs, run, or stand on their toes.
  • Swelling around the calf may occur.
  • Patients may often have had a sudden increase in exercise or intensity of activity.
  • Some patients may have had recent corticosteroid injections or use of fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
  • Some athletes may have had a prior injury to the tendon.

Physical exam

  • When Achilles tendon injury is suspected, the entire lower lag is examined for swelling, bruising, and tenderness. If there is a full rupture, a gap in the tendon may be noted.
  • Patients will not be able to stand on the toes if there is a complete Achilles tendon rupture.
  • Several tests can be performed to look for Achilles tendon rupture. One of the most widely used tests is called the Thompson test. The patient is asked to lie down on the stomach and the examiner squeezes the calf area. In normal people, this leads to flexion of the foot. With Achilles tendon injury, this movement is not seen.
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Comment from: Male (Patient) Published: August 11

Here I am in recovering in hospital post Achilles repair surgery. I have no pain yet, but knowing what is ahead of me I am contemplating the next few months with despair. I was playing tennis and had already played several games so had warmed up well. Yep, heard the loud cracking/popping noise and felt like I had been hit hard with an iron bar and fell like a sack of potatoes. I had incredible pain for several hours and then less pain. A week later in hospital the surgeon said it looked like there had been some prior damage, a warning sign, as I had been hobbling a bit after my runs a few weeks early. Good luck to those reading this!

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Comment from: For ever young, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 28

I'm 56 and was saying goodbye to guests. As they took off I turned and chased (ran) after them. About the 3rd step I heard this loud cracking sound and instantly there was pain in the ankle area and back calf muscle. I limped inside and after sitting for 10 minutes could no longer walk. I had no strength in my toes and no power in the ankles after the Achilles tendon rupture. There was swelling and bruising around the ankle and calf area the next day.

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