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Quick Facts

Achilles Tendon Tears


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Nov 2020| Content last modified Nov 2020
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What is an Achilles tendon tear?

A tendon is a thick rope of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone.

The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. An Achilles tendon tear is a rip in the tendon.

  • The Achilles tendon can be partially or completely torn

  • It usually tears from running or jumping

  • Doctors can usually tell you have an Achilles tendon tear by examining you

  • You may need surgery

What causes Achilles tendon tears?

Tendons can tear when:

  • They are stretched too far

  • You contract the muscle they're attached to really hard

Achilles tendon tears happen when your foot is pushed up hard, such as when you:

  • Jump hard

  • Land from a jump

  • Run hard

Tears often happen while doing sports, especially when middle-aged people start exercising too hard too quickly.

What are the symptoms of an Achilles tendon tear?

A tear in the Achilles tendon causes the following symptoms:

  • It feels like you’ve been kicked behind the ankle

  • It’s hard to walk

  • Your calf hurts a lot and may be swollen or bruised

How do doctors diagnose an Achilles tendon tear?

Doctors can usually diagnose an Achilles tendon tear by examining you. Sometimes they do an MRI.

How do doctors treat an Achilles tendon tear?

For a partial tear (and some complete tears), you'll wear an ankle splint or a removable boot for 4 weeks.

If your tendon is torn completely or doesn't heal with a splint or boot, you may need surgery.

After the tear heals, you'll need to do rehab exercises. The exercises help strengthen your leg muscles and make your ankle less stiff.

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