Tendons are strong, flexible bands of connective tissue which attach muscles to bones. Tendons facilitate movement and act as shock absorbers to protect muscles from injury.

The Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles with the heel bone, is the strongest and thickest tendon in the body. Although it is flexible and able to withstand substantial amounts of force, it can snap or rupture under certain conditions.

Sports injuries can cause the Achilles tendon to rupture. This may be brought on by playing sports with frequent starts and stops (i.e., tennis, basketball, soccer), which can severely stress the Achilles tendon. Steroid use, obesity, certain antibiotics, arthritis, and older age can contribute to weakening the Achilles tendon and increase its risk of rupturing.

Sometimes, immobilization in a cast or boot, along with exercise-based interventions, may help the tendon to heal naturally. In other cases, surgery may be necessary to stitch the tendon back together. The tendon may even be so damaged that it needs to be either partially or completely replaced with tendons from other places in the foot.

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