An Achilles tendon rupture is an injury that affects the back of the lower leg. It most common among people who play sports. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel. It is the tendon that is responsible for making it possible to walk, jump, run, and point your toes. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. If it is not used often, it can become weak. An Achilles tendon can tear or rupture if it is overstretched. The tear can be a partial tear or a full tear.
In some case, people with an Achilles tendon rupture may not experience any signs or symptoms. However, most people experience some symptoms such as pain which can be severe, swelling near the heel, inability to bend your foot downward or put pressure on the injured leg when you walk, inability to stand on your toes on the injured leg, or a popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs.
The risk factors that may increase your risk for developing an Achilles tendon rupture include:
· Age. An Achilles tendon rupture most commonly occurs between the ages of 30 and 40.
· Sex. Men are five times more likely to suffer from an Achilles tendon rupture than women.
· Playing sports. People are most likely to develop an Achilles tendon injury while playing sports that involve running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops.
· Certain antibiotics. Antibiotics such as Cipro or Levaquin may increase the risk of Achilles tendon rupture.
· Steroid injections. Steroid injections are sometimes used to minimize pain and inflammation in the ankle joint. This can weaken nearby tendons and has been associated with Achilles tendon ruptures.
Ways to prevent or decrease the risk of developing Achilles tendon injuries:
· Increase training intensity slowly. Achilles tendon injuries commonly occur after abruptly increasing training intensity.
· Stretch and strengthen calf muscles. Make sure to stretch your calf until you feel a pull. But be careful not to overstretch the calf muscle to the point where it is painful, as this can cause injury. Stretching can help the muscle and tendon absorb more force and prevent injury.
· Change up your exercises. Alternate high-impact sports with low-impact sports. Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your Achilles tendons.
· Be careful running on certain terrains or surfaces. Avoid or limit running on hard, bumpy, or slippery surfaces.
· Wear proper running shoes. Wear proper running shoes that have a support system and cushioning in the heels.