Your Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and it helps handle immense amounts of stress as we run, jump and push off of our feet every single day. Although it is designed to handle a large amount of stress, like any tendon, it can become overloaded and rupture. These tears are often classified as a partial or complete rupture of the Achilles tendon. Below, we take a closer look at how partial Achilles tendon injuries are treated.

Understanding Partial Achilles Tendon Tears

Partial Achilles tendon tears occur when the tendon is overloaded with stress and the tendon begins to tear without completely breaking into two sections, which would be classified as a total tendon rupture. Because our tendons take on a lot of stress every day, most people have some form of Achilles tendon microdamage and tearing, but this doesn’t tend to cause symptoms and the tendon can still handle a significant amount of stress.

Problems occur when this partial tearing goes beyond just microdamage and causes some moderate to severe tearing in the tendon without a complete rupture. You’ll have a better idea if this type of tearing has taken place because symptoms tend to be more similar to a complete rupture, which includes symptoms like:

  • Sudden pain in the area of the tendon
  • An audible popping or snapping sound at the moment of injury
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • The sensation of having been kicked in the back of the ankle
  • Inability to walk without pain or discomfort

If you are dealing with any of these symptoms or have reason to believe that you have suffered a partial or full Achilles tear, head to your primary care physician or to a foot specialist’s office for further evaluation.

Diagnosing and Treating Partial Achilles Tendon Tears

The diagnosis of a partial or complete Achilles rupture will be made by asking the patient about their symptoms, viewing the area, asking the patient to perform some simple movement exercises and with the help of imaging techniques. An MRI or CT scan can help to pinpoint the significance and location of the rupture.

Unless it is an extremely mild partial tear, it will typically be treated the same as a total Achilles tendon rupture in that surgery will likely be the course of action. Partial Achilles tendon tears are usually treated as if it is a complete Achilles rupture because the injury can easily transition to a complete rupture if you continue to stress the area, since it will be in a weakened state. Conservative care can only do so much in restrengthening the torn tendon, which is why artificial strengthening is often the preferred course of treatment.

Surgery can be performed in a few different ways, but at our clinic we oftentimes recommend the PARs surgery, which stands for percutaneous Achilles repair system. During the PARs operation, a small 1-2cm incision will be made in order to access the tendon and allow the surgeon to artificially repair and strengthen the tendon. This approach leads to a significant reduction in swelling and scar tissue, which helps patients begin rehab sooner and get back on their feet faster.

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