When an Achilles tendon ruptures, the patient may tell you they heard a sound like a gunshot and they cannot walk, but with an Achilles tendon tear it is still possible to walk around without knowing your injury.
This week a lady consulted me complaining of pains at the back of both heels and into the calves, which had been there for more 6 weeks. She experienced aching, throbbing and a stretching sensation, especially in the evening. She felt less pain wearing higher heeled shoes. In addition, the pain was worse when she got up after sitting for some time.
There was a history of a right ankle fracture and some persisitent left knee pain. She also told me that she had been diagnosed with calcaneal spurs many years ago. The lady was overweight and of short height.
During my examination, I could see and feel that both Achilles tendons were swollen and had nodules in them. Her walking stride was short and stamping. There were other significant biomechanical problems too.
Temporary treatment consisted of in-shoe wedging. I also referred the lady for an ultrasound scan of the Achilles tendons.
Two days later the scan reported the left tendon as having “….an almost full thickness intra-tendon tear ……approximately 2.8mm thick, extending 30mm longitudinally.” On the right “……loss of fibrillar pattern, consistent with fraying.”
There were other features, but this was one lucky lady, because there could have been a rupture at any time. This time she was referred to an orthopaedic foot surgeon.
So whether you are a patient or podiatrist, when managing chronic pain at the back of the heel, consider the benefits of ultrasound scanning to assist in diagnosis and always act quickly, you might discover an Achilles tendon tear.