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Achilles tendon rupture is an uncommon but feared injury, which results from the tearing of most, or all, of the achilles tendon fibres.
The symptoms of the achilles rupture are typically obvious, but sometimes missed! An injured person may still be able to walk, and possibly even raise up onto the toes, even without pain. The injury is often described as the feeling of a sudden snap, being kicked or shot in the back of the calf. This can be associated with a loud snapping or cracking sound.
The person will usually have swelling and pain around the injury. Pain is not always severe after the initial injury if all the tendon fibres are torn. There may be some retraction or bunching up of the calf muscle towards the knee. Tenderness and stiffness is usually worse in the morning. Diagnosis is best confirmed by an experienced professional.
Achilles ruptures are hard to predict. They can occur when the calf muscle is contracting, whilst the foot is forced in the opposite direction. Examples include stepping into a hole, falling, or sports/activities that involve forceful pushing–off with the foot. Most do occur during recreational sport and are particularly prevalent in runners.
There is no conclusive evidence that prior achilles tendinopathy (once called tendonitis) increases the likelihood of achilles rupture, but it may be a factor. There is an increased incidence in males, and over the age of 30-40. There is some early evidence that steroid injections into the tendon, systemic corticosteroid use, Quinolone antibiotics, and systemic conditions such as gout, systemic lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis may increase the risk of achilles rupture.
If you suspect an achilles tear or rupture go see your physiotherapist or doctor straight away.