A tear of the Achilles tendon is not an uncommon injury in sport and can be very dramatic when it occurs, because the calf muscles and the connected Achilles tendon play such an important function. It is more likely to occur in explosive activities such as tennis. The real issue is that the achilles tendon and the two muscles connected to it cross two joints (the knee as well as the ankle) and if both the joints are moving in contrary directions at the same time, particularly if instantly (as might happen in tennis), then the chance of something failing is fairly high. The management of an achilles tendon rupture is a bit controversial because there are two alternatives that most of the published research shows have got virtually identical outcomes. One option is conservative and the other is surgical. The conservative option for an achilles tendon rupture is usually putting the leg in cast that supports the foot pointing downwards slightly. Usually it takes as much as six weeks to get better and after the cast is removed, there ought to be a slow and gentle resumption of exercise. Physical rehabilitation is commonly used to help with this.
The surgical choice is to surgically sew the two edges of the tendon together again, this is followed by a period in a cast that is shorter than the conservative option, and will be followed by a similar slow and steady resumption of activity. If longer term outcomes are evaluated the final result is usually about the same, but the operative technique has the additional potential for surgical or anaesthetic complications that the conservative method doesn't have. The decision as to which approach is better is going to have to be one based on the experiences of the doctor and the preferences of the person with the rupture. There is a trend for competitive athletes to go on the surgical pathway for an achilles tendon rupture as it is believed that this may give a improved short term outcome and get them back to the sports field a lot quicker.