Complete Achilles Tendon Rupture

Care After

Tendons are the tough, fibrous, and stretchy (elastic) tissues that connect muscle to bone. The Achilles tendon is the large, cord-like structure in the back of the leg just above the foot. It attaches the large muscles of the lower leg to the heel bone (calcaneus). You can feel this as the large cord just above the heel. The diagnosis of complete Achilles tendon tear (rupture) is made by examination. With this injury you are not able to stand up on the toes of the injured foot. X-rays will determine the extent of the damage (injury). With complete rupture of the tendon, surgical repair with casting or splinting is necessary. Surgery allows the surgeon to put the tendon back together. The cast is used to allow the repair time to heal. The injury may be casted or immobilized for 6 to 10 weeks. Immobilization means that the injured tendon is kept in position with a cast or splint. Once your caregiver feels you have healed well enough following this injury, he or she will provide exercises you can do to help heal (rehabilitate) the injured tendon.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Apply ice to the injury for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times per day. Put the ice in a plastic bag. Place a towel between the bag of ice and your skin, splint, or immobilization device.

  • Use crutches and move about only as instructed.

  • Keep the leg elevated above the level of the heart (the center of the chest) at all times when not using the bathroom. Do not dangle the leg over a chair, couch, or bed. When lying down, elevate your leg on a couple pillows. Elevation prevents swelling and reduces pain.

  • Try to avoid use of your leg other than gentle range of motion of the toes.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your pain and swelling increase or pain is uncontrolled with medicines.

  • You develop new, unexplained symptoms or an increase of the symptoms that brought you to your caregiver.

  • You develop an inability to move your toes or foot.

  • You develop warmth and swelling in your foot.

  • You begin running an unexplained temperature.