The Achilles tendon is among the most powerful tendon within the body. This tendon attaches the calf muscles on the heel bone, therefore transfers the loads from your calf muscles through to the foot for running and walking. One huge anatomical disadvantage of this Achilles tendon would be that it and the leg muscles is a two-joint structure. Because of this the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles passes across two joints – the knee along with the ankle. When during activity the two joints will be moving in opposing directions, in this instance the ankle joint is dorsiflexing simultaneously that the knee will be extending, then the force on the Achilles tendon is pretty excessive and when there may be some weakness or problem with the Achilles tendon it may well rip or break. This may happen in sports such as tennis or volleyball in which there are lot of quick stop and start activity.

Once the Achilles tendon may rupture it can be really dramatic. Sometimes there is an audible snap, although sometimes there could be no pain and the athlete merely collapses to the floor since they loose all strength from the leg muscles through to the foot. There are several videos of the tendon rupturing in athletes found in places like YouTube. A simple search there will probably find them. The video clips clearly show how extraordinary the rupture is, exactly how simple it seems to occur and just how immediately disabling it can be in the athlete as soon as it occurs. Clinically a rupture of the tendon is rather apparent to diagnose and assess, as once they contract the calf muscles, the foot will not move. When standing they can not raise up on to the toes. The Thompson test is a evaluation that when the calf muscle is compressed, then the foot ought to plantarflex. If the Achilles tendon is torn, then this does not happen.

The initial approach to an Achilles tendon rupture is ice and pain alleviation and also for the athlete to get off the leg, normally in a walking brace or splint. There are actually mixed experiences on the ideal solution for an Achilles tendon rupture. One choice is for an Achilles tendon rupture is operative, and the other option is to using a walking brace. The science reviewing the two approaches is pretty clear in showing that there are no distinction between the 2 concerning the long term consequences, so that you can be relaxed in knowing that whatever treatment is used, then the long terms outcomes are similar. For the short term, the operative method will get the athlete returning to sport faster, but as always, any surgical treatment can carry a little anaesthetic danger and also surgical wound infection risk. That risk should be compared to the requirement to get back to the activity faster. There is a high danger of re-rupture if it happens too quickly.

What is probably more important in comparison to the choice of the operative or non-surgical therapy is the rehab just after. The research is pretty clear that the faster standing and walking and motion is completed, the greater the outcome. This has to be done gradually and slowly to allow for the tendon as well as the muscle to develop strength before the return to sport.


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Craig Payne Author
University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger, dad.