Achilles Tendon Rupture
What exactly is a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon?
The group of muscles in the back of our lower leg is called the calf. The calf consists of two main muscles, one of which protrudes above the knee joint (gastrocnemius) and the other below the knee (tibia). Both of these muscles are located in the heel bone through the Achilles tendon.
When the calf muscles contract, force is also exerted on the Achilles tendon. When the contraction is intense due to multiple repetitions or intense effort, it can cause the Achilles tendon to rupture.
Ruptures in the Achilles tendon range from a small, partial rupture with minimal pain and difficulty moving to a total rupture, which may require surgical repair.
Achilles fractures usually occur when the patient tries to accelerate from a standstill or when he rushes sharply forward, such as during a game of tennis, football, volleyball, etc.
Patients with partial rupture usually experience pain during activities such as walking (especially uphill), climbing stairs, running and jumping. It is also common for them to feel pain at rest after such activities, especially when they wake up in the morning. Swelling or tenderness may occur.
The diagnosis is usually made during a clinical examination and confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging or ultrasound.
Most patients with an Achilles tendon rupture are treated with a physical therapy program. The success rate of this program depends on the patient’s compliance with the program. One of the main keys of the program is to stop the patient any activity that increases the pain, until the symptoms completely subside. This allows the body to begin the healing process, as there will be no further tissue damage. Once this is achieved, a gradual return to these activities is advisable, as long as there is no increase in symptoms.
In the initial phase the inflammation can subside with anti-inflammatory and regular ice packs. To ensure the best possible result it is very important a program of restoration of flexibility and strengthening, under the supervision of a physiotherapist.
Factors Contributing to Achilles Tendon Rupture
There are several factors that can predispose to rupture of the Achilles tendon. These need to be assessed and corrected under the guidance of a physiotherapist. Some of the factors that contribute to this condition are: lack of flexibility, wrong way of exercising, insufficient mechanical support, posture, insufficient warm-up and muscle weakness.
Physiotherapy for Partial Rupture of the Achilles Tendon
Physiotherapy for Achilles tendon rupture is valuable for speeding up recovery, ensuring a very good result and reducing the chance of re-injury. Physiotherapy includes:
- Soft molecule techniques (therapeutic massage)
- Exercises to strengthen and improve muscle elasticity
- Articular Mobilization (manual therapy)