Achilles tendon rupture

After the Achilles tendon has ruptured, the foot has been placed in a cast. The foot must rest, so the tendon can heal.

About your visit

We have examined your foot and ascertained that you have a ruptured Achilles tendon. We have given you a cast to immobilise your foot so the tendon can grow back together properly.

If you need crutches, we have lent you a pair to take home with you.

When you get home

Contact your general practitioner if your condition deteriorates

Call your general practitioner or dial 1813 to reach the medical helpline outside your general practitioner’s opening hours if:

  • your toes become pale, cold and numb
  • your toes begin to feel numb and tingly
  • the cast feels too tight or begins to chafe
  • the cast cracks
  • the cast means that you cannot do your exercises
  • the cast gets wet or becomes loose
  • pain increases.

You have bruising and your ankle joint may get stiff

A ruptured Achilles tendon may cause:

  • blue and red bruising at your toes and leg
  • stiffness in the joint in your foot.

These are normal reactions that will go away again.

Take pain-relieving medicine if you are in pain

If you need pain-relieving medicine, we recommend medicine containing paracetamol. You can buy this over the counter at pharmacies and in supermarkets. We recommend that you avoid pain-relieving medicine containing acetylsalicylic acid, as this has a blood-thinning effect.

Use an ice compress

You can prepare an ice compress and place it on the swollen area or where you are experiencing pain. Wrap a bag of ice in a tea towel, for example, to avoid direct contact with your skin. Use a compress 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes. This will relieve the pain and swelling in your ankle.

Protect the cast

The cast will harden quickly, but will not be completely dry for 24 hours. Therefore, try not to cover it with clothes for the first 24 hours. Also try not to bump into anything to avoid dents in the cast.

We recommend that you cover the cast with a plastic bag when bathing/showering. Make sure the top of the bag is well sealed so the cast does not get wet.

The cast can cause irritation

It is normal to experience the following:

  • Sweating and itching under the cast. 
  • Blood accumulation or bruises that spread to the toes. These symptoms will disappear without treatment.

If the cast has sharp edges that causes irritation, call the medical hotline at 1813. 

Avoid inserting objects to relieve itching

Do not insert objects, such as a knitting needle, into the cast to relieve itching. You risk damaging the skin and causing sores.

Use a shoe with the same sole thickness as the cast

Wear a snug-fitting shoe on your healthy foot. This will help you move around more safely. Wear a shoe with the same sole thickness as the cast so both your legs have the same length.

Adjust the crutches

The crutches must be adjusted so they fit your height. Crutches have the correct height when you can hold onto the crutches with a straight back, relaxed shoulders, and your arms fall to your side with a slight bend at the elbow.

Remember to adjust the crutches again after the cast is removed. Your back may begin to ache if the crutches are too low. If the crutches are too high, your neck and shoulders may begin to ache.

Exercises

Rehabilitation

When the cast has been removed, you should start your rehabilitation exercises. Only make gentle movements in your ankle to begin with. After one to two weeks, do the exercises with gradually increasing resistance. Continue the exercises even if your foot swells or hurts, but with fewer repetitions.

Do the exercises two to three times a week.

Exercise 1

Sit with your feet up on a chair.

  • Flex and point your feet 20 times.
  • Take a break and repeat the exercise twice more (three times in total).

Exercise 2

Sit with your feet up on a chair.

  • Rotate your feet both ways ten times.
  • Take a break and repeat the exercise twice more (three times in total).

Exercise 3

Stand with equal weight on both legs.

  • Lift your heals and stand on your toes. Lower your heals and lift your toes.

Exercise 4

Stand on your toes on both feet.

  • First stand with most weight on your healthy leg.
  • Then stand with equal weight on both legs and slowly lower your heels so you stand flat on your feet. Eventually, you should be able to do the exercises on the injured leg.

Exercise 5

  • Stand on one leg and close your eyes.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

Exercise 6

Stand on a balance board. Stand with your feet parallel and as wide apart as possible.

  • Tilt down the edge of the board and rotate the board round so that the edge of the board is always in contact with the floor in a smooth motion. Rotate both ways.
  • Rock the board forwards and backwards.
  • Rock the board from side to side.

Exercise 7

Stand on your injured leg with your foot in middle of the board.

  • Keep the board horizontal.
  • Try doing the exercise with your eyes closed.

Exercise 8

Place both your hands on a wall in front of you. Move one leg backwards. Point both your feet straight forward, and keep your heels on the floor.

  • Lean forwards by bending your front knee until you feel a stretching sensation in your calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat the stretch with the other leg.

You can see a video of the exercises on https://regionh.dk/20l or hold your smartphone camera over this QR code:

Practical precautions

Wait with contact sport that involves abrupt stop-start and jumping

Your foot will not be ready for contact sport and exercise involving jumping or abrupt movement (e.g. football) until four to six months after the cast has been removed. Train the muscles in your injured leg to be as strong as the muscles in your healthy leg. This reduces the risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon again.

Take care on stairs

Be careful going up and down stairs after you have had the cast removed. Try putting your weight on the back of your foot. This will reduce the risk of rupturing your Achilles tendon again.

Worth knowing

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