Achilles Tendon Rupture

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Achilles Tendon Rupture Overview

The Achilles tendon is a large band of soft tissue that connects the gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles) to the calcaneus (heel bone). Located in the back of the ankle joint, the Achilles tendon is one of the largest tendons in the human body and facilitates walking, running and jumping.  Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California patients participating in explosive jumping, sprinting and pivoting type activities may be at risk for achilles tendon rupture. Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic ankle specialist, focuses on diagnosing and treating partial and complete tears of the Achilles tendon so patients can return to their active, healthy lifestyle.

When the calcaneal tendon is over stressed and stretched beyond its normal limit, a partial or complete Achilles tendon rupture may occur.  These injuries are most commonly seen in middle-aged athletes who engage in high intensity sports on the weekend known commonly as “weekend warriors.”

Achilles Tendon Rupture Symptoms

Achilles tendon tear typically causes a sudden “popping” sensation at the lower calf followed by pain, swelling, and difficulty walking.

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Achilles Tendon Rupture Diagnosis

An accurate diagnosis will be obtained thorough medical review and physical examination by Dr. Yau. During the examination, he will feel for a tendon defect that represents a tear within the tendon. He will also evaluate range of motion and strength in the injured ankle to the uninjured ankle. Dr. Yau may obtain x-rays, ultrasound or MRI scan to assess and confirm the diagnosis.

Achilles Tendon Rupture Treatment

Non-Surgical

Patients with partial tendon tears, non-retracted tears and those with medical conditions that make them high risk for surgery will be prescribed conservative treatment. Non-surgical treatment involves protecting the tear in a cast, walking boot or brace to restrict motion while the tendon heals. Physical therapy will be prescribed to restore strength and motion to the ankle during the healing process.

Surgical

Achilles surgical repair is the best treatment option for acute Achilles rupture in most young active individuals. Surgery decreases the risk of re-rupture and can lead to quicker recovery. The surgical procedure generally involves Dr. Yau making an incision in the back of the lower leg in order to suture the torn tendon back together.

For more resources on the calcaneal tendon, or to determine the appropriate treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture, please contact Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic ankle specialist in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area.

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