Medical City Dallas

Baylor, Scott & White Plano


Pain in the Heel: Achilles Tendon Rupture

Maybe you’ve felt that agonizing pain in the back of your heel before—one moment you’re running or jumping, and the next you feel a sharp snap in the back of your foot. Suddenly you can barely walk and your ankle is swollen and bruised. Chances are high that you have torn or ruptured that main tendon that moves your foot – your Achilles. Personal weaknesses are called our Achilles’ heels for good reason: when this tendon has a problem, our ability to move around effectively is severely impaired.

Achilles Tendon Injuries and Ruptures

A Painful Injury

This strong, rope-like tissue connects your calf muscle to your heel bone and is what allows you rise up on your toes and push off the ground for any forward movement, including walking, running, and jumping. When it partially tears or ruptures completely, your calf is not able to pull on the heel bone. This means that pushing off the ground becomes extremely difficult.

This injury is caused by a sudden increase of the stress on the tendon. The tissues are stretched too far and are unable to handle the strain. This frequently occurs in athletes, especially if they have not properly conditioned their feet, ankles, and calf muscles. It can also occur in people who aren’t active regularly and try to do more at one time than their tendons are able to handle.

Immediate Treatment

A tendon rupture is a serious injury that requires immediate attention for it to recover. The sooner it’s treated, the better it heals. If left on its own, it could be permanently weakened. The specialists at Dallas Podiatry Works can usually diagnose the injury after a complete examination of your foot, though additional diagnostic tools may be used, like MRIs, to confirm it and get a clear picture of the extent of the damage. If your Achilles is only partially torn, some conservative options may be available for treatment. The foot and ankle will need to be stabilized in a boot or cast while the torn edges grow back together. In many cases, however, the tear will be wide enough that you will need surgery. If it ruptured completely, surgery will most certainly be necessary to regain strength and movement.

You will have to stay off the foot and wear a protective boot for about a month after surgery. At that time Dr. Joel W. Brook, Dr. David R. Northcutt, Dr. Irene Arroyo and Dr. John Baca will determine if you are able to start putting weight on your foot again. You will need physical therapy to help your muscles and tendons rebuild their strength to be able to do their jobs without being reinjured. By six months, most people are able to return to their activities.

Before it Tears

Most would agree that preventing a significant injury like an Achilles’ tendon rupture is better than having to deal with the problem after it happens. Since a rupture is caused by a sudden increase in strain on the tendon, conditioning your feet and ankles can help prevent a tear. Stretch out your calf muscles before and after exercising. Build up endurance for any activity slowly and over time. Vary your exercises as well—alternate between high-impact activities that are hard on your feet and low-impact ones. Be aware of your shoe choice, too. Supportive and well-fitted shoes relieve stress on the heel and help protect it.

Snapping your Achilles’ tendon is not just painful, it impairs your ability to walk and move effectively. Even if the initial injury is not a complete tear, failing to treat it adequately can lead to one later. Ignoring full ruptures could permanently weaken your feet and even disable you. If you or someone you care about may have this injury, do not ignore the pain or hope it’ll get better on its own. Seek immediate care and set your feet on the path to recovery. For an appointment or more information, contact Dallas Podiatry Works by visiting the online contact page or by calling one of our two office locations: for the Dallas location, call (972) 566-7474; to reach us in Plano, call (972) 943-3323.

"I did 3 EPAT treatments and it gave me tremendous relief from my plantar fasciitis. I highly recommend this for anyone who is dealing with PF. Also, the physical therapist Dr. Brook sent me too is fantastic. I am definitely on the mend and so glad I did EPAT."- All H. 5 star all h
"Dr Northcutt is a fantastic physician. My first surgery with him (although painful), went very well. A couple of issues (with his staff) needed to be corrected, I appreciated his calm and professional demeanor and he corrected those issues promptly. He sets the bar high (the mark of a great physician), and that is the key reason why I'm coming back to him to correct my other foot. I would highly recommend him."- She B. 5 star
"The staff at Dallas Podiatry Works could not have been more courteous, helpful, and professional in doing their job. They made me feel comfortable when I was there, which is certainly appreciated. They answered all the questions that I had and just made each visit the most pleasurable that it could be. I would highly recommend them to anyone needing this type of care."- Joseph B. 5 star
"My experience was a good one from pre-op to post -op. I saw the doctor right before my surgery.He explained the process to me and my husband. The recovery nurse was great. It was neither crowded or chaotic as some day surgery centers. My foot is doing well as I follow instructions. I look forward to my one week progress visit!"- Patricia T.5 star
"I had dealt with a painful foot problem for five months and had seen three different Doctors before seeing an article in D Magazine about Dr. Joel Brook. Dr. Brook took one look at my foot, explained the causes for my pain and set me up on a successful treatment plan. He is very knowledgeable, thorough and exhibits a caring attitude. I highly recommend him."- Ginger W. 5 star
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