Pain in Your Heel: Rupturing the Achilles Tendon

You have probably heard of the Achilles tendon before, but what does it actually do? Believe it or not, it's the largest and strongest tendon in the body and it connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Although it's very strong, it is also quite susceptible to injury because of the high tensions frequently placed on it. The Achilles tendon can tear, become inflamed, or even rupture.

A rupture of the Achilles tendon is quite painful and is often marked by a loud popping sound coming from the area. This will generally require surgery or some kind of long-term care plan. Causes of an Achilles tendon ruptures will usually fall under one of two categories: a sudden injury, or an injury that was slowly getting worse over time.

Often, the sudden injury of an Achilles tendon—called an acute injury—strikes individuals who have exceeded their physical limits while playing a sport. Sports-related Achilles tendon injuries typically strike a person who is a little bit out of shape. When he decides to play a pick-up game of basketball with some younger guys or hit the tennis courts with some physically fit friends, he is apt to overreach his limits. In the excitement, the fellow forgets his age, his fitness level, and what his body is actually capable of … and then his Achilles tendon ruptures as a special way of reminding him.

In contrast, the case of an Achilles tendon getting worse over time—a progressive or chronic injury—can readily hurt people who are otherwise physically fit. Many people will deal with pain in that area for years. It may get progressively worse over a long period of time and the individual might not notice how bad it's truly gotten until it's too late.

If you think you may vulnerable to an Achilles tendon rupture, you should do two things:

  1. First of all, stretch as much as you can before a period of exercise. Stretching will reduce tightness and the chance of possible injury.
  2. Second, contact an experienced podiatrist for a professional evaluation of your fitness for exercise and advice on maintaining foot and leg health while engaging in vigorous activity.

Questions about Achilles Tendon Problems? Call Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists at 704-861-0425 to schedule an appointment today.

Gaston Foot & Ankle Specialists

251 Wilmot Drive
Gastonia, NC 28054