Whether it's because of sports, exercise or play, an injury to the Achilles tendon can take your child out of the game. Specialists at Shriners Children's are ready to help your child get back to their favorite activity.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. Injuries may include a rupture, also known as a tear. The tear can be partial, which means it tears just part of the the way through, or full, which means it tears all of the way through. Both types of tears are treated in our sports medicine clinics.
This injury in children is often caused by overuse in sports or activities, which means movements are repeated over and over in that part of the body while playing.
Other causes of an Achilles tendon rupture may be:
- Sudden increase in exercise or play
- Lack of warming up or stretching before or after exercise or play
- Wearing non-supportive, or poor-fitting shoes while playing
- Direct contact to the area
- Due to having flat feet
It is common for a child with an Achilles tendon tear to hear a pop when the injury happens. A partial tear may cause mild or no symptoms. A full tear causes pain and sudden loss of strength and movement. Pain in the heel, stiffness, swelling, weakness and difficulty walking are very common after a rupture.
Appointments for Achilles tendon injuries begin with a history and physical exam. Our doctors need to learn how an injury happened before deciding on a care plan.
Radiology and rehabilitation are important for Achilles tendon injury care. At Shriners Children’s we offer both, allowing convenient back-to-back appointments for our patients. X-rays or other imaging may be taken to help decide the best treatment for an injury.
Treatment for your child’s Achilles tendon injury will depend on the injury. Treatment options will be discussed at your appointment. Early treatment works best and can help prevent more injury.
A torn tendon will likely take weeks to months to heal. It's important to be patient in the healing process and not return to sports and activities that stress the tendon too quickly.
Treatment for tears of the Achilles tendon may include:
- Ice or cold packs
- Taping or using an athletic wrap
- Pain medicine
- Stretching exercises
- Raising the foot above the level of the heart to help with swelling
- Wearing good fitting shoes
- Orthotic shoe devices or a adding a heel wedge in their shoe to help reduce pressure on the tendon. Both products are available through our Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) department.
- A walking boot
- Using crutches
Physical therapy is an important treatment for all sports injuries, including Achilles tendon tears. Our on-site physical therapists work with patients and families to create custom rehabilitation plans and goals. Physical therapy is typically recommended for both surgical and non-surgical patients.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
Our doctor listened to our concerns and even worked on our daughter's treatment plan WITH us. We weren't just told what to do or what was going to happen but instead he involved us in the plan.