The Achilles tendon runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Besides being the longest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon rupture is notable for other reasons: It is the site of one of the most common injuries to the foot and ankle.

The tendon may be ruptured, or torn. This can happen suddenly, with a jump or a burst of speed. Or the tendon can degenerate over time and eventually rupture.


Symptoms of a ruptured Achilles include pain, stiffness, and general tenderness in the tendon area. This can be felt anywhere between the heel and the calf muscle. Pain may be felt in the morning on arising and ease gradually throughout the day. Or it can be worsened by activity. A ruptured tendon may become swollen and sensitive to touch.

The patient with a ruptured Achilles may report any of the following:

  • Sudden pain in the back of the ankle or calf
  • Popping or snapping
  • Swelling between the heel and the calf
  • Difficulty standing on the toes

Until the patient is able to see the doctor, he or she should stay off the injured foot or ankle. Walking may cause further damage. Ice can be applied to reduce swelling, and the ankle can be wrapped. Keeping the leg elevated, at the same level or slightly above the level of the heart, will help reduce swelling.


When a patient appears at our clinic in DeSoto, Dallas or Sunnyvale, with a ruptured Achilles tendon, our staff member will ask them to describe how the injury happened. The doctor will also ask whether the patient had a previous injury or has experienced the same symptoms in the past. By palpating the foot, the doctor can assess the damage and evaluate the patient’s range of motion and muscle strength by comparing it with the other foot and ankle. If the tendon is ruptured, the patient will show some weakness when trying to push down or stand on their toes. An Achilles tendon rupture is usually a fairly straightforward diagnosis but the doctor may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis or to better analyze the extent of the damage.


Non-surgical treatment is preferred for minor Achilles tendon ruptures, for patients who are not overly active, and for those with medical conditions that might complicate surgery. Non-surgical treatment might include prescribing a cast, boot, or brace to immobilize the tendon while it heals.


Achilles surgery reduces the risk of re-rupturing the tendon and may increase the patient’s strength in the ankle. Surgery is preferred for athletes as it’s been shown to increase muscle function and mobility. The surgeon will choose among different procedures according to the patient’s situation.

If you have ruptured Achilles tendon; After surgery, the foot and ankle will be immobilized in a cast or walking boot. Complications such as re-rupture of the tendon, or nerve pain are rare but not unknown. Physical therapy is an important component of the rehab process.