Achilles tendinitis (or
Achilles tendonitis) is a strain of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Pain can be moderate or severe, but the condition is not usually serious. Of course, if you
are suffering the leg and heel pain it brings, it certainly feels serious enough.
In some cases, Achilles Tendinitis can be caused by physical activity without a proper warm up or trauma, such as falling, to cause an overstressing of the muscle and tendon. Other causes include
repetitive overuse syndrome, such as a job that required frequent heel lifting. Biomechanical causes such as pronation (or fallen arches) will cause the heel (calcaneus) to lean slightly, putting the
undue stress on the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles. Most pain can be felt at the back of the heel or the point at which the calf muscle becomes a tendon three quarters of the distance down from
the knee. Discomfort can be felt especially when jumping or when lifting the heel off the ground. Swelling and redness can often be seen at the back of the heel and touching the area would cause a
tender sensation. In extreme cases, the tendon can become torn or rupture entirely which would cause bruising or an inability to put pressure on the foot.
The most common site of Achilles Tendonitis is at the heel to 4 inches above the heel. The diagnosis of this problem is made when the following signs are present. Pain in the Achilles tendon with up
and down movement of the foot at the ankle. Pain in the Achilles tendon when you squeeze the tendon from side to side. If you are unable to move the foot either up or down, or you have intense pain
when trying to walk, you may have a tear of the Achilles tendon, and you should see a doctor immediately. Also if you have severe pain in the calf, with or without discolorations of the skin, you may
have a blood clot, and this is a medical emergency; see a doctor immediately. If you do not fall into either of these categories then try the following suggestions.
To diagnose the condition correctly, your doctor will ask you a few questions about the pain and swelling in your heel. You may be asked to stand on the balls of your feet while your doctor observes
your range of motion and flexibility. The doctor may also touch the area directly. This allows him to pinpoint where the pain and swelling is most severe.
The main treatments for Achilles tendinitis do not involve surgery. It is important to remember that it may take at least 2 to 3 months for the pain to go away. Try putting ice over the Achilles
tendon for 15 to 20 minutes, two to three times per day. Remove the ice if the area gets numb. Changes in activity may help manage the symptoms. Decrease or stop any activity that causes you pain.
Run or walk on smoother and softer surfaces. Switch to biking, swimming, or other activities that put less stress on the Achilles tendon. Your health care provider or physical therapist can show you
stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon. They may also suggest the following changes in your footwear, a brace or boot or cast to keep the heel and tendon still and allow the swelling to go
down, heel lifts placed in the shoe under the heel, shoes that are softer in the areas over and under the heel cushion. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen can
help with pain or swelling. Talk with your health care provider. If these treatments do not improve symptoms, you may need surgery to remove inflamed tissue and abnormal areas of the tendon. Surgery
also can be used to remove the bone spur that is irritating the tendon. Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) may be an alternative to surgery for people who have not responded to other
treatments. This treatment uses low-dose sound waves.
Not every Achilles tendon injury or condition requires surgery. It is generally understood by doctors and surgeons, that surgery will introduce more scar tissue into the Achilles tendon. This added
scar tissue will be problematic, requiring physical therapy and conservative treatment options post-surgery. If not dealt with properly, your ankle and Achilles tendon could end up in worse condition
than before the surgery! This is why surgery is only performed as a last resort.
Suggestions to reduce your risk of Achilles tendonitis include, icorporate stretching into your warm-up and cool-down routines. Maintaining an adequate level of fitness for your sport. Avoid dramatic
increases in sports training. If you experience pain in your Achilles tendon, rest the area. Trying to ?work through? the pain will only make your injury worse. Wear good quality supportive shoes
appropriate to your sport. If there is foot deformity or flattening, obtain orthoses. Avoid wearing high heels on a regular basis. Maintaining your foot in a ?tiptoe? position shortens your calf
muscles and reduces the flexibility of your Achilles tendon. An inflexible Achilles tendon is more susceptible to injury. Maintain a normal healthy weight.