T is for Thompson’s Test

July 22, 2023

The Thompson test is an assessment that examines the integrity of the Achilles tendon by squeezing the calf. It is used as a clinical test to identify the presence of an achilles tendon rupture.

Thompson’s test is a clinical examination technique used to assess the integrity of the Achilles tendon, specifically for diagnosing a possible Achilles tendon rupture. The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous band that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and plays a crucial role in foot movement and stability.

An Achilles tendon rupture typically occurs as a result of sudden, forceful movements or excessive strain on the tendon, often during sports or physical activities. It can lead to significant pain, swelling, and a noticeable gap or indentation at the back of the ankle.

Thompson’s test is straightforward and is usually performed by a healthcare professional, such as an orthopedic doctor or a physiotherapist. During the test, the patient is positioned lying face down (prone) on an examination table or bed, with their feet hanging off the edge.

Here’s how the test is conducted:

  1. The examiner locates the patient’s calf muscles, especially the bulkier gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
  2. With the patient’s knee bent at 90 degrees, the examiner squeezes the calf muscles, usually at the midpoint between the knee and ankle, to contract them gently.
  3. The examiner observes the movement of the foot and ankle during the muscle squeeze.

Interpretation of Thompson’s test:

  • If the Achilles tendon is intact: When the calf muscles are squeezed, the normal response is for the foot to move or point downward (plantar flexion). This occurs because the squeezing of the calf muscles pulls on the Achilles tendon, causing the foot to move.
  • If the Achilles tendon is ruptured: If the Achilles tendon is completely torn or ruptured, there will be no movement of the foot when the calf muscles are squeezed. The foot will remain in a neutral or dorsiflexed position (neither pointed nor flexed), and there will be no visible or palpable plantar flexion response.


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