About Achilles Tendon Ruptures

The Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon (or occasionally Achilles’ tendon), also known as the calcaneal tendon or the tendo calcaneus, is a tendon of the posterior leg. It serves to attach the gastrocnemius (calf) and soleus muscles to the calcaneus (heel) bone. Sometimes called the heel cord, it is the largest tendon in the human body. When the calf muscles contract, the Achilles tendon is tightened, pulling the heel.

What does this all mean? Not only is the Achilles the largest tendon in your body, it's also the largest and thickest tendon with the responsibility of dealing with some of the largest muscles in your body. It's because of this that the rupture is such a devastating injury to overcome.

The Rupture

While there is no ideal candidate to suffer a rupture of the Achilles Tendon, it is often that the person fits the "weekend warrior" description: not overly active throughout the week, but quite active on the weekends. While they might be in great shape, the rupture often occurs doing an activity they're not overly accustomed to or not quite in shape for. Sports such as Tennis and Soccer, or others involving lots of stop & go, short but quick sprints, are common activities in which an ATR is more common.

Research indicates that most tears occur in the left leg (source), likely due to more right-handed people pushing off harder with their left legs. Often the injury is described as being hit in the back of the leg by someone, usually including a very noticeable and audible "pop".

Thompson's Test

Thompson's test is a simple, reliable and quick way of determining whether a complete Achilles tendon rupture has occurred. The test is performed by having the injured person lay flat on their stomach and having someone grab & squeeze the calf of the injured leg. Doing so should produce movement in the Achilles/foot area, as shown in the video below: