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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.
Return to Achilles Tendon Rupture

See what others are saying

Comment from: Johno, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: April 26

Reading through the other comments on here and although we all know it is a nasty injury, I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing walking football. I am just over 4 weeks in and have a boot for company and my next appointment is around 7 weeks. I am not in any pain, there is no bruising or swelling and I can get around ok. My disadvantages are no driving and a recent trip to Disneyland Paris saw me in a wheelchair so I could keep up. I still have a dent in my Achilles area but feel it is healing.

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Comment from: marathon man, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 25

I had a freak accident while working out, tripped and ruptured the Achilles tendon. I never experienced any pain, except for a 'pull feeling' on my right calf. I got up and tried to walk but it felt like my foot went to sleep, numb. I went to the doctor and they performed a Thompson test and x-rays and knew right away what happened. I had an ultra sound to make sure there wasn't a blood clot. The orthopedic surgeon gave me two options, surgery or the conservative method, no surgery. I picked the conservative method, and they put my leg in a cast, toes pointing down, for 2 weeks. Then they changed the position to a more neutral position, and cast the foot/leg for another 2 weeks, then they changed the cast again and positioned the foot/leg to a neutral position, added a walking shoe for another 4 weeks. I have been out of the cast for 3 weeks and going through therapy. My foot and leg feel great, a little weak, but no pain and I'm walking around. Another 4 weeks of therapy, till end of May 2017, and I should be ok and on the golf course. No more running.

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Comment from: Brian, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: March 30

I was at a 50th birthday party dancing when I turned to plant my foot and kind of jumped. In the middle of the jump it felt like somebody kicked me in the back of the leg. I turned around and saw nobody there. I was in extreme pain and limped off of the dance floor. I told my wife that I thought that I had blown my Achilles tendon. We went to the emergency room and sure enough, the doctor said it was a full rupture. I was scheduled for surgery a couple of days later. It was about 4 months before I was boot and crutch free. I am just a few weeks short of a year from the injury now. My ankle is still stiff when I wake up in the morning. However, I participate in most activities normally. I am very cautious about jumping or planting suddenly on my left foot (injury side). I suspect that I may feel this way for a while. It was a long haul and you have to be very patient. Good Luck.

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