Symptoms and Signs of Achilles Tendon Rupture

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is a large ropelike band of fibrous tissue in the back of the ankle that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. When the calf muscles contract, the Achilles tendon is tightened, pulling the heel, which provides the ability to point the foot and stand on tiptoe. An Achilles tendon rupture refers to a complete tear through the tendon, which usually occurs about 2 inches above the heel bone.

Symptoms of Achilles tendon rupture include sudden and severe pain at the back of the ankle or calf (may be described as "being hit by a rock or shot" or "like someone stepped onto the back of my ankle"), the sound of a loud pop or snap may be heard, and a gap or depression may be felt and seen in the tendon about 2 inches above the heel bone. The initial pain, swelling, and stiffness may be followed by bruising and weakness. The pain of an Achilles tendon rupture may lessen quickly. Standing on tiptoe and pushing off when walking is impossible.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.