Achilles tendon ruptures are common. Most athletes describe a sudden feeling like someone kicked them in the leg - or a similar acute event with a 'popping' sensation and pain in the Achilles tendon. The treatment of achilles tendon ruptures is the subject of much debate. We are often asked about whether this injury needs surgery. There are pro's and cons with both surgical and non-operative treatment. The bottom line though is that as long as the tendon heals at its normal length it probably doesn't matter. In reality there is no best solution for everyone and treatment decisions are made on an individual basis with the patient.
It is important to get early treatment and to be placed in an equinous cast (a cast with the foot in a pointed position). The more definitive treatment options can be discussed at a later date. Most of the time imaging, like MRI and ultrasound, is unhelpful. Ultrasound especially can confuse the issue.
At Axis we often use an accelerated non-operative treatment program for managing this injury. We have had good success with this regime in both recreational and elite athletes. This protocol uses a moon boot - rather than the plaster of paris cast which is generally used. The advantage of this protocol is that it allows you to do some basic ankle and foot exercises to limit muscle wasting and joint stiffness. In the later stages we are also happy for you to remove the boot for sleep.
If you would like to consider using this protocol ask your primary care provider to refer you to one of the Sports Physicians to see whether this might be appropriate for you.
A review and clinical check with your doctor at each stage of the protocol is needed to make sure that the tendon is healing normally. Whichever protocol you use to treat your Achilles tendon rupture you are likely to require some form of immobilisation for about eight weeks. It is likely to be a minimum of six months before you are back to playing sport.