Protecting Your Achilles Heel From Injury

Image Credit: Louetta Foot and Ankle Specialists 

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

There are certain seasons that generate more injuries than others. Springtime is one of those seasons. During the winter, many people are either home, or predominantly indoors. As the weather warms us, the desire to be outside increases. There are so many things to do outdoors. From exploring the beach, to hiking mountain trails, to general exercises in the park, activity levels generally increase during the spring. 

Many people that were previously inactive, suddenly decide that it’s time to get active again. In many instances, there is no prior preparation, and injuries can be incurred. An injury that is frequently seen by orthopaedic specialists during the spring time is the Achilles tendon rupture injury. Since prevention is better than cure, it is helpful to identify what causes the injury, so that better care can be taken during physical activity. 

What is the Achilles Tendon Rupture? 

Achilles Tendon Rupture is a condition that occurs when the Achilles tendon separates into two parts after the introduction to a stress. With the application of physics, one can see that the induced stress causes the tendon to shear, then break. It is usually associated with hearing a loud “pop” in the feet once there’s a vigorous blow to the heel area. The variation in ankle conditions is expansive, ranging from minor conditions to debilitating conditions where patients cannot walk. 

While the symptom list can be variable, the symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture can be mistaken for additional ailments, so consult with your foot and ankle surgeon in order to determine what the root cause of your ankle pain is. Your condition could be benign, and investigation will be the key to appropriate treatment methods. 

Who is most at risk? 

Athletes are most at risk for Achilles tendon rupture. Many people who are involved in sports such as running, gymnastics or dancing are often at risk. As long as there’s movement that involves a sudden pivot of the foot and ankle region, it will be possible to develop an Achilles injury. Sudden impacts will cause shearing and tearing of the ligaments in the ankle. On the more general side of daily activity, wearing shoes that don’t fit the feet can create stresses that cause Achilles tendon rupture. Preventative care such as calf exercises and bracing the ankles, can strengthen the ankle area and minimise impacts of physical stresses. 

 What are the treatment options for Achilles Tendon Rupture?

With an excruciating pain that affects your ability to walk, the most common treatment for Achilles Tendon rupture is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Surgery is the ideal way to engineer the tendon back to its former glory. As with all surgery, your orthopaedic surgeon will assess the area, usually with a scan like an X-ray in order to determine where the problem is. Post surgery, you will be prescribed a recovery plan, to facilitate your healing. 

While there are non-surgical treatments for Achilles tendon rupture, minimally invasive procedures have proven effective for healing the root cause, particularly for an internal tear. For maintenance of the ankle, stretching exercises have proven effective in facilitating the healing of the ankle regions. An appropriate physiotherapy will aid in the restoration.

Conclusion

Awareness of the possibility for Achilles tendon rupture, is key to the prevention of injury. When an injury does occur, an orthopaedic consultation will determine the severity of the injury, and the treatment plan. Adequate rest and mobility exercises will be key to full recovery. 

Reference: 

[1] Premier Ortho 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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