Torn Achilles Tendons Aren’t Just for Greek Heroes

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Having an “Achilles heel” has come to mean possessing a serious weakness—something that impairs you. While it’s named after the legendary weakness of a mythological hero, it could also apply to literal Achilles injuries. Damage to this major connector, such as an Achilles tendon rupture, can completely impair normal movement and make walking difficult and painful. Unfortunately, tearing this tendon isn’t limited to poisoned arrows. Many very common issues can be at the root.

Your Achilles is the biggest, strongest tendon in your body. Without it, you aren’t able to rise up on your toes or efficiently push off the ground to walk. That’s one reason why an Achilles tendon rupture is so serious, and why it can’t be ignored.

Typically the actual tear develops suddenly when the force on your tendon is greater than the tissue can handle. Landing a jump incorrectly, falling, or stepping in a hole in the ground are frequent ways people fall victim to this painful problem. However, there are many additional factors that may play a role in a tendon rupture. Here are a few factors that may lead to a partial or complete tear:

  • Chronic Tendonitis – Long-term inflammation and stiffening from tendonitis seriously weakens your Achilles, making it more likely to tear the longer the inflammation goes untreated.
  • Suddenly Increasing Activity – Suddenly being more active, or starting a strenuous new exercise routine, can seriously stress your tendon, which may not be strong enough to handle it.
  • Frequently Wearing High Heels – Heels keep the back of your foot raised in the air. Over time, maintaining this foot position can actually shorten your tendon.
  • Tight Calf Muscles – Tight calves don’t stretch easily. When they are forced to stretch suddenly, they are more likely to tear instead.

Some medications and anti-inflammatory steroid injections might make your connective tissue more stiff and inflexible, too. The older you are, the more likely issues in your Achilles will cause a rupture as well. If you know your risks, however, you can take steps to address the problem before anything tears.

Never ignore an Achilles tendon rupture. This needs prompt care to heal correctly. Dr. Robert Parker is an expert in rupture repair, even modifying and pioneering a surgical technique to improve healing for people who didn’t get sufficient tendon care sooner. Call (281) 497-2850 to make an appointment at our Houston office right away.

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