How Do I Know If I Tore My Achilles? - Achilles Symptoms and Treatments

Jul 03, 2023

misc image

You'll know. Achilles injuries are painful, serious injuries that often have long recovery times. Read more about Achilles tears, symptoms, treatments, and prevention below.

Tearing your achilles tendon is incredibly painful and serious. The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It plays a crucial role in the ability to point the foot downward and push off the ground when walking, running, or jumping.

When the Achilles tendon tears, it usually occurs during activities that involve sudden, forceful movements of the foot or excessive stress on the tendon. This can happen during sports including soccer, basketball, and football, and any other activities that require jumping, pivoting, or accelerating suddenly. In some cases, the tear may be preceded by inflammation and degeneration of the tendon, making it more susceptible to injury. If you experience achilles inflammation it is important to rest, ice, compress, and elevate your foot and ankle. This can aid your achilles in the recovery process and reduce inflammation. 

The symptoms of an Achilles tendon tear may include:

  • Sudden and severe pain in the back of the leg or calf
  • A popping or snapping sound at the time of injury
  • Swelling and tenderness near the heel
  • Difficulty walking or standing 
  • Weakness in the leg or an inability to push off the injured leg

If you suspect an Achilles tendon tear, it's important to seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare professional, such as a Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Scott Hanauer, or Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Deepan Patel, will evaluate the injury through a physical examination. Imaging tests will then be performed or ordered to further diagnose the tear. The providers at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics have ultrasound readily available in every office. 

Treating Achilles Tears

Treatment for an Achilles tendon tear can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the individual's lifestyle. In some cases, non-surgical treatment options may be recommended, including:

  • Immobilization: Placing the foot and ankle in a cast or walking boot to allow the tendon to heal.
  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the calf muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Medication: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Injections: Localized injections may be suggested to aid with recovery.
  • PRP Injections: Platelet rich plasma uses the platelets from your blood to speed up and aid in recovery. 

However, in many achilles tear cases, surgical intervention is necessary to restore the strength and function of the Achilles tendon. The providers at Garden State Pain and Orthopedics prefer to take a conservative and minimalistic approach to recovery. Minimally invasive procedures are performed whenever possible. In some cases traditional open surgery is necessary. Surgical options may include:

  • Open surgery: A large incision is made in the back of the leg, and the torn ends of the tendon are sutured together.
  • Minimally invasive surgery: Small incisions are made, and a camera and specialized instruments are used to repair the tendon. 

After surgery, a period of immobilization in a cast, boot, or brace is typically required. Physical therapy and rehabilitation play a crucial role in the recovery process, helping to restore strength, flexibility, and function to the affected leg. The timeline for returning to normal activities can vary, but it often takes several months of rehabilitation before a person can resume sports or vigorous physical activities.

It's important to follow the treatment plan provided by your healthcare professional and to attend follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your recovery plan.


Common Questions Regarding Achilles Tears


How long does it take to recover from an Achilles tendon tear?

The recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the tear and the chosen treatment approach. Non-surgical treatment typically requires several months of rehabilitation, while surgical repair may involve a longer recovery period, ranging from six months to a year. Achilles tears are not something to be taken lightly. Minimally invasive surgical options have greatly decreased the recovery, however it still takes a long time to recover from achilles injuries. 

Can an Achilles tendon tear heal on its own without surgery?

In some cases, particularly with partial tears or less severe injuries, non-surgical treatment options can be effective. Treatments like PRP therapy can help with recovery. However, surgical intervention is recommended for more complete tears, especially for athletes and active individuals, to optimize healing and restore strength.

Will I be able to return to sports or physical activities after an Achilles tendon tear?

With proper treatment and rehabilitation, many individuals can regain the ability to participate in sports and physical activities. However, the timeline for return to activity varies, and it's important to follow the guidance of your healthcare professional and gradually progress through rehabilitation to minimize the risk of re-injury. 

Can an Achilles tendon tear be prevented?

While it's not always possible to prevent an Achilles tendon tear, there are measures that can reduce the risk. These include maintaining strength and flexibility in the calf muscles, gradually increasing the intensity of physical activities, wearing appropriate footwear, and avoiding sudden, forceful movements that strain the tendon. Having greater ankle flexibility can assist and prevent but will not make you invincible to achilles tears. Gym-goers can prevent achilles injuries by lifting appropriate weights. “Ego” lifting, or lifting more weight than you should, can lead to achilles tears. 

Are there any long-term complications associated with an Achilles tendon tear?

In some cases, individuals may experience complications such as weakness in the calf muscle, limited range of motion, or a higher risk of re-injury. Rehabilitation and ongoing exercise programs prescribed by healthcare professionals can help minimize these risks and promote optimal recovery.

Are there any non-surgical treatments that can aid in Achilles tendon healing?

Non-surgical treatment options for Achilles tendon tears may include immobilization in a cast or walking boot, physical therapy exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles, and the use of orthotic devices to support the foot and reduce stress on the tendon.

If you have any questions about Achilles injuries, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers by selecting the “Book Now” button. You can also read more about our services on our services page. 

Check us out on TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@gardenstatepainortho