Healthcare professionals use the Achilles tendon rupture test to identify an Achilles tendon tear. The test involves observing foot movement during a physical examination.
The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone, allowing you to point your foot down when you walk, run, or engage in physical activity.
Though it’s your largest, strongest, and thickest tendon in your body, it’s prone to injury, and a rupture can cause significant pain and affect your daily activities.
The Achilles tendon rupture test is an effective diagnostic tool to identify a ruptured Achilles tendon. Test variations include the Matles test and the Simmonds–Thompson test, also called the calf and ankle squeeze tests.
Prompt diagnosis is vital if you have an Achilles tendon rupture. Understanding the available diagnostic and treatment options is essential to healing and resuming your routine quickly.
Continue reading to learn more about the Achilles tendon rupture test, common symptoms, and treatment options.
Consult a healthcare professional to do the Achilles tendon rupture test. Usually, they’ll test each leg to compare mobility and strength.
During the Matles test, difficulty standing on your tiptoes or displaying a limited range of motion in your ankle indicates an Achilles tendon rupture.
During the Simmonds–Thompson test, you’ll lie face down on an examination table, hanging your feet over the edge, relaxing your feet and calf muscles. Your clinician will firmly squeeze your calf muscle above your ankle and observe foot movement.
If your Achilles tendon is intact, squeezing your calf muscle will cause your foot to move downward. But if your Achilles tendon has a rupture, movement won’t occur.
If you have an Achilles tendon rupture, getting medical attention as soon as possible is important.
Early treatment can promote proper healing and prevent complications.
It’s possible that another injury, such as a fracture, strain, or sprain, is causing your symptoms.
Performing an Achilles tendon rupture test requires experience, proper technique, and anatomical knowledge.
While the tests are accurate, healthcare professionals can’t rely on them as the sole diagnostic tool. They may need to perform imaging tests, such as an MRI or ultrasound, to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture depends on the severity of your injury and individual factors, such as your age, activity level, and overall health.
You can ice your leg, elevate it, and take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain and swelling.
Treatment for minor or partial tears usually involves wearing a cast or walking boot for 6 to 8 weeks.
Severe tears or complete ruptures may require surgery, which typically involves reattaching your Achilles tendon to the heel bone. The type of surgery depends on the severity and location of your injury. Postsurgery, you’ll wear a cast or walking boot for immobilization.
Healthcare professionals may recommend surgery to elite athletes, as
Your healthcare professional can often recommend physical therapy to help restore strength, mobility, and flexibility. Include stretches and activities like walking, cycling, and swimming in your exercise routine to build muscle strength and increase your range of motion.
It’s vital to follow your treatment plan and get plenty of rest. This can allow your tendon to heal properly and prevent complications, including chronic pain and weakness.
The outlook for an Achilles tendon rupture
Generally, the outlook is positive, and you can return to your usual activities within 6 to 12 months.
The recovery time following nonsurgical treatment may last longer. It can take around 12 weeks for partial tears and up to 6 months for complete ruptures.
There’s some controversy surrounding surgical and nonsurgical outcomes.
A 2020 study found no difference between surgical and nonsurgical outcomes in terms of satisfaction and re-rupture rates.
Can you perform an Achilles tendon rupture test at home?
An Achilles tendon rupture test is a medical diagnostic test and requires a healthcare professional to perform it.
They have the training, experience, and extensive anatomical knowledge to accurately perform the test, make a diagnosis, and recommend treatment.
What are the symptoms of an Achilles tendon rupture?
The symptoms of an Achilles tendon rupture may include sudden, intense pain in the Achilles tendon area.
You may hear a popping or snapping sound at the time of injury. Additional symptoms include stiffness, swelling, and tenderness.
It may be difficult and painful to bear weight on your leg, walk, and stand on or flex your toes. Climbing stairs or an incline may be especially challenging.
Can you stand or walk with an Achilles tendon rupture?
Standing or walking with a partial Achilles tendon rupture is possible, but it can be quite painful and may increase your risk of further injury.
Your mobility and ability to bear weight depend on your injury severity and pain tolerance.
What’s the difference between the Simmonds–Thompson and Matles tests?
The Simmonds-Thompson test, also called the Thompson test or calf squeeze test, involves lying on your stomach with your feet hanging off the table and relaxing your ankles.
A healthcare professional squeezes your lower calf above your ankle and observes the plantar flexion movement of your foot.
The Matles test evaluates your ability to stand on your toes and push off the ground. Having difficulty doing this can indicate an Achilles tendon rupture.
The Achilles tendon rupture test is a quick assessment healthcare professionals use to identify a torn Achilles tendon. They may also use an MRI or ultrasound to confirm a diagnosis.
If you think you have an Achilles tendon tear, getting medical attention from a healthcare professional is vital. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment, which usually involves physical therapy and surgical and nonsurgical treatments.
The outlook for a full recovery is generally good. The healing period typically takes several months and may be slightly longer for nonsurgical cases.