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The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The calf muscle is actually two muscles, the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. The soleus lies underneath the gastrocnemius.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It allows you to rise up on your toes and push off while walking or running.
The two main injuries are:
This refers to tiny tears (microtears) in the tissue in and around the tendon. These tears are caused by overuse. This is often called Achilles tendinitis.
An Achilles tendon also can partly tear or completely tear (rupture). A partial tear may cause mild or no symptoms. But a complete rupture causes pain and sudden loss of strength and movement.
Problems with this tendon may seem to happen suddenly. But in most cases they are the result of many tiny tears in the tendon that have happened over time.
Other conditions can affect the Achilles tendon area. They include:
Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy may include:
Symptoms of an Achilles tendon tear may include a sudden, sharp pain. Most people feel or hear a pop. You may have swelling and bruising. You may not be able to point your foot down or stand on your toes. Some people with partial tears may not have any symptoms.
To diagnose Achilles tendon problems, such as tendinopathy or a tear, most doctors ask questions about your past health and do a physical examination. The examination includes checking for tenderness, watching how you walk and stand, and comparing the range of motion of your two legs.
Other tests may be done to clarify a diagnosis or to prepare for surgery. These tests include:
Treatment for mild Achilles tendon problems like Achilles tendinopathy includes rest, over-the-counter pain medicine, and stretching exercises. You may need to wear well-cushioned shoes and change the way you play sports. Orthotic shoe devices can help reduce stress on the tendon. You may get physiotherapy. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
Surgery may be used to treat a torn tendon. A cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device may also be used. These devices keep the lower leg and ankle from moving. Rehab follows both of these treatments. Exercise, in either physiotherapy or a rehab program, can also be used.
Most Achilles tendon injuries occur during sports. If you had an Achilles tendon problem in the past, it's even more important to try to prevent another injury. Make sure to:
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineDavide Bardana MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Davide Bardana MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
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