A partial Achilles tendon rupture can occur in athletes from all sports but particularly in running, jumping, throwing and racket sports. The tendon will not completely tear and it may not be noticed until activity is stopped. Sharp achilles pain and stiffness are two of the main symptoms, which may only appear as the muscles cool down after exercise.
Symptoms of a partial Achilles rupture
Symptoms include a sudden sharp pain in the Achilles tendon. Sometimes though, the athlete may not feel pain at the time of the tear but later on or the next day when the tendon has cooled down and stiffened up.
When returning to exercise after a short period of rest, there may be a sharp pain which disappears when warmed up only to return when stopped. Stiffness in Achilles tendon first thing in the morning may be felt as well as a small swelling in the tendon.
Partial Achilles tear explained
The Achilles tendon is the large tendon at the back of the ankle. Because of the strong lever system in the foot and ankle huge forces go through the tendon when running and jumping.
A partial Achilles tendon rupture can occur in athletes from all sports but particularly running, jumping, throwing and racket sports. The tendon tears but not completely. Scar tissue will form which is likely to lead to inflammation of the tendon.
Often the athlete will not feel the Achilles tendon rupture at the time but will become aware of it later when the tendon has cooled down.
Treatment of partial Achilles rupture
What can the athlete do?
Apply cold therapy or R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) for the first two to three days. See a sports injury specialist or doctor who can advise on treatment and rehabilitation. A proper diagnosis is essential. If the rupture is a complete achilles tendon rupture then immediate surgery is usually indicated. Thompson's test is one way of determining if a total rupture may be present.
What can a Sports Injury Specialist or Doctor do?
Correctly diagnose the injury - Thompson's test is one way of assessing the Achilles tendon. Taping the Achilles tendon can relieve the strain on it aiding the healing process. Electrotherapy such as ultrasound can help reduce pain and inflammation.
A full Achilles tendon rupture rehabilitation program is required which will include stretching as well as strengthening exercises. A doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or if the tear is particularly bad it may be immobilized in a plaster cast for 4 to 6 weeks. Very severe or complete ruptures may require surgery.