The Achilles tendon is the tendon that connects the heel of the foot with the muscles of the calf. When the Achilles tendon is overstretched, it can tear. This overstretching can be caused by force from jumping or running without properly stretching first. A partial or full tear of the Achilles tendon is called an Achilles rupture.
People who do not exercise regularly and then have a period of increased activity are prone to Achilles tendon injuries. Achilles ruptures can cause sudden pain, swelling along the back of the leg, difficulty walking, and a snapping or popping sensation while walking. Achilles rupture therapy is treatment for a full or partial tear of the Achilles tendon.
The traditional method of achilles rupture therapy is called R.I.C.E., which is an acronym for its components. The “R” stands for Rest, which is considered a critical part of treatment for an Achilles tendon injury. Icing is the second element of treatment. The injured individual should apply ice packs to the area of the wound. The ice pack should not be applied directly to the skin or it may cause skin damage. Wrapping an ice pack or small bag of ice in a towel can prevent skin damage. Most resources recommend applying ice for fifteen to twenty minute intervals, but the individual should follow the doctor’s instructions.
The “C” in R.I.C.E. stands for compression. By wrapping the ankle or leg at the area of the Achilles pain may help prevent further swelling. Elevation is the next part of the R.I.C.E. method of treatment for Achilles tendon injuries. Propping up the injured leg can help prevent swelling. The doctor may instruct the individual to take over-the-counter Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help alleviate pain and swelling.
Achilles tendon tears may require the use of a cast or walking boot. If noninvasive Achilles treatment fails to provide relief and promote healing, surgery may be necessary. Even if noninvasive Achilles treatment provides relief, the Achilles tendon may re-rupture if the patient is very active or returns to normal activity too soon.
Surgery to repair an Achilles rupture is often recommended for active patients. The surgery often results in better Achilles tendon function after an Achilles tear than noninvasive treatment. After surgery, the patient will need to wear a cast or walking boot. No matter how the Achilles tendon rupture is treated, physical therapy is often used to strengthen the muscles and increase the range of motion of the foot and ankle.