The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. It runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Also called the heel cord, the Achilles tendon facilitates walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground.Any type of athlete may suffer from Achilles tendonitis , a common overuse injury and inflammation of the tendon. Usually this inflammation does not last long. However if not resolved, it can lead to Achilles tendonosis in which the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears.
Events that can cause Achilles tendonitis may include:
- Hill running or stair climbing.
- Overuse, stemming from the natural lack of flexibility in the calf muscles.
- Rapidly increasing mileage or speed when walking, jogging, or running.
- Starting up too quickly after a layoff in exercise or sports activity, without adequately stretching and warming up the foot.
- Trauma caused by sudden and/or hard contraction of the calf muscles when putting out extra effort, such as in a sprint.
- Improper footwear and/or a tendency toward overpronation.
Achilles tendonitis often begins with mild pain after exercise or running that gradually worsens. Other symptoms include:
- Pain—aching, stiffness, soreness or tenderness—within the tendon. This may occur anywhere along the tendon’s path. Pain often appears upon arising in the morning or after periods of rest, then improves somewhat with motion but later worsens with increased activity.
- Tenderness or pain when the sides of the tendon are squeezed
- Sluggishness in your leg
- Mild or severe swelling
- When the disorder causes degeneration, the tendon may become enlarged and develop nodules where the tissue is damaged.
- A bandage specifically designed to restrict motion of the tendon.
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication for a period of time.
- Ice- To reduce swelling due to inflammation, put ice under a thin towel on the area for 20 min of each waking hour.
- Orthotics- Corrective shoe inserts can help support the muscle and relieve stress on the tendon.
- Night Splints-Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon during sleep.
- Rest and switching to exercises that do not stress the tendon (such as swimming).
- Physical Therapy- Stretching, massage, and exercises to strengthen the weak muscle group.
- MLS Laser Therapy – This is a pain free treatment that can be used to reduce inflammation and speed the healing process. It is used to treat many different foot and ankle conditions. To find out more about MLS Laser Therapy click here !
When is Surgery Needed?
In extreme cases or when other methods have failed to restore the tendon to its normal condition, surgery is performed to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any tears.
To prevent Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis from recurring, your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend strengthening and stretching of the calf muscles through daily exercises. Wearing proper shoes for your foot type and the activity you are participating in is also important in preventing recurrence of the condition.
If you have any questions about your foot health or symptoms that you are experiencing, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Kylin Kovac at Idaho Foot & Ankle Center . Give him a call at 208-529-8393 or schedule an appointment online. Dr. Kovac is highly qualified and ready to get you back on your feet.
Some content provided by The ACFAS.