The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. However, this tendon is also the most common site of rupture or tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendon due to overuse.

Achilles tendon rupture is a partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon. It comes on suddenly, sometimes with a popping sound, and can be debilitating. A full rupture is more severe, but less common, than a partial rupture. 

A full rupture splits the Achilles tendon so that it no longer connects the calf muscle to the heel: the calf muscle can no longer cause the foot to “push off”, so normal walking is impossible. If it is a full rupture, then lightly pinching the Achilles tendon with the forefinger and thumb will reveal a gap in the Achilles tendon. 

Partial and full Achilles tendon ruptures are most likely to occur in sports requiring sudden stretching, such as sprinting and racquet sports. Partial Achilles tendon tears are also common among middle and long distance runners. 

Symptoms of an achillies tendon rupture may include:

  • A sudden sharp pain, as if someone has hit you in the back of the leg.
  • Although it is possible to walk, it is usually painful.
  • There may be a gap felt in the tendon.