What is the Achilles reflex?
Credit:UIG via Getty ImagesUniversal Images GroupGetty Images
Q:

What is the Achilles reflex?

A:

Quick Answer

The Achilles reflex, also called the ankle jerk reflex, is an abrupt bending of the foot when a doctor strikes a person's Achilles tendon, which is located just above the heel. In a positive response, the foot moves as if the person is pointing his toes.

 Know More

Full Answer

A reflex is a movement in a muscle when a tendon is tapped, usually with a small hammer. If a reflex is decreased or absent, a nerve supplying the muscle might be impaired or compressed. The Achilles tendon connects the muscle at the back of the calf to the heel bone. When the Achilles reflex is tested, the Achilles tendon is tapped while the foot is relaxed at a right angle to the rest of the leg.

The reflex is graded on a scale of zero to four, with zero meaning that the reflex is absent. A score of zero or one for the Achilles reflex often indicates a compression in the S1 or S2 region of the spine, which are at the base of the spine around the tailbone. This type of compression is associated with sciatica, back pain that travels through the buttock and down the sciatic nerve of one leg.

Other common causes of a reduced or absent Achilles reflex include a herniated disk, hypothyroidism and hypothermia. A qualified health professional must test the Achilles reflex to make a diagnosis.

Learn more about Conditions & Diseases

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is Achilles bursitis?

    A:

    Achilles bursitis occurs when a fluid-filled sac below the Achilles tendon becomes swollen, according to Medline Plus. These sacs are called bursa, and they are found near most major joints. Achilles bursitis is also known as retrocalcaneal bursitis, and it typically heals within several weeks.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What causes achilles tendon pain?

    A:

    Pain and injury to the Achilles tendon are usually caused by tendinitis, which is triggered by overuse, an increase in physical activity, high heels, flat feet or overly tight muscles, according to WebMD. Sudden movements are more likely to tear or otherwise injure the tendon.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What is the best treatment for plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis?

    A:

    The best treatment for Achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis is a combination of anti-inflammatory medications, strapping or taping the feet and orthotic devices or shoe inserts. The purpose of this combination is to reduce the swelling while supporting the affected tissue while it heals, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    Should you have a heel spur removed?

    A:

    A doctor may recommend surgical removal of a heel spur if nine to 12 months of regular treatment does not work, says WebMD. Tests check that a person is a good candidate for surgery, and possible risks of surgery include nerve pain, heel pain, tendinitis and foot cramps.

    Full Answer >

Explore