An Achilles tendon rupture can be experienced by anyone but is most commonly experienced by runners and athletes.  The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon found in the human body. In fact, you can feel your Achilles tendon if you put your hands at the back of your ankle and just above the heel. It stretches from the bones in the heel up to the muscles in the calf. 

The Achilles tendon is responsible for transferring power from your calf to the heel of your foot, enabling your foot to flex as you walk or run. However, no matter how strong the Achilles tendon is, with the constant pressure and stress it bears from the daily activities, it may become inflamed, injured, or ruptured.  If you have experienced a tear or rupture, contact your doctor ASAP, who may recommend dedicated MRI imaging that can be performed at The Radiology Clinic as soon as possible.  Our imaging center, located in Rockville, MD, offers high-resolution MRIs that allow doctors to diagnose the injury and allow for prompt treatment.

What happens when the Achilles tendon tears or ruptures?

A tear or rupture is an injury in the Achilles tendon that is often caused by the abrupt increase of stress in the Achilles tendon. While it is possible to feel no signs of a tear in the Achilles tendon, most individuals feel the following symptoms:

  • A popping sound coming from the back of the calf or ankle
  • A sudden stabbing pain in the back of the calf or ankle
  • Swelling or inflammation in the area around the calf and ankle
  • Unable to rise up on the toes or flex the foot of the affected leg

An Achilles tendon rupture is a serious injury and needs immediate medical attention. 

Diagnosing and treating an achilles tendon rupture

The diagnosis of your condition will vary depending on the symptoms you are experiencing and the activities you have performed prior to the incident. Your doctor will have you undergo a physical exam such as checking the back of your leg for swelling in order to determine the possible causes of your condition. 

You will likely also need to undergo imaging tests such as MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, which is a high-resolution advanced imaging test used that uses magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio waves to form images of scanned body parts like your calf and heel. 

An MRI will help determine the following:

  • Tendinitis/inflammation/bursitis
  • Type of tear – whether it is a partial or complete tear

The images produced by the MRI will show the severity of the rupture; thus, your doctor will be able to come up with the best treatment for you. Partial tears may require surgery or a cast that covers your foot up to your knee, a leg brace, or a boot for 6 weeks or more depending on your condition. However, if you had a complete tear, then your only option may be surgery in order to repair the ruptured Achilles tendon. 

Part of the rehabilitation for a ruptured Achilles tendon is physical therapy with exercises that focus on making the muscles in your calf stronger and the tendons in your ankle more flexible. Rehabilitation may last for 4-6 months. A follow-up MRI may also be required in order to check the post-operative condition of your Achilles tendon. 

If you are in need of imaging, please contact The Radiology Clinic at 301-217-0500 to schedule an appointment