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.
Sometimes Achilles Tendinitis is a result of sudden trauma, as you might encounter from playing sports, but you can also have Achilles tendon pain as a result of small, unnoticed, day-to-day
irritations that inflame the tendon over time by a cumulative effect. In those with no history of trauma, Achilles Tendonitis is sometimes associated simply with long periods of standing. There are
several factors that can cause the gradual development of Achilles Tendinitis. Improper shoe selection, particularly using high heels over many years, increases your odds of developing the condition.
This is because high-heeled shoes cause your calf muscles to contract, leaving the tendon with a lot less slack in it. Inadequate stretching before engaging in athletic or other physically-demanding
activities also predisposes you to develop the problem. This is especially true in "weekend athletes", individuals who tend to partake in excessive physical activities on an intermittent basis.
Biomechanical abnormalities like excessive pronation (too much flattening of the arch) also tends to cause this condition. And it is much more common individuals with equinus. It is more common in
the middle-aged, the out-of-shape, smokers, and in those who use steroids. Men get the condition more frequently than women. Those involved in jumping and high-impact sports are particularly
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis and tendinosis include recurring localized heel pain, sometimes severe, along the achilles tendon during or after exercise. Pain often begins after exercise and
gradually worsens. Morning tenderness or stiffness about an inch and a half above the point where the Achilles tendon is attached to the heel bone. Sluggishness in your leg. Mild to severe swelling.
Stiffness that generally diminishes as the tendon warms up with use.
If you think you might have Achilles tendonitis, check in with your doctor before it gets any worse. Your doc will ask about the activities you've been doing and will examine your leg, foot, ankle,
and knee for range of motion. If your pain is more severe, the doctor may also make sure you haven't ruptured (torn) your Achilles tendon. To check this, the doc might have you lie face down and bend
your knee while he or she presses on your calf muscles to see if your foot flexes. Any flexing of the foot means the tendon is at least partly intact. It's possible that the doctor might also order
an X-ray or MRI scan of your foot and leg to check for fractures, partial tears of the tendon, or signs of a condition that might get worse. Foot and ankle pain also might be a sign of other overuse
injuries that can cause foot and heel pain, like plantar fasciitis and Sever's disease. If you also have any problems like these, they also need to be treated.
In order to treat achilles tendinitis effectively, it is important to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. Once the true cause is identified, a comprehensive treatment
program can be initiated to reduce inflammation and improve any faulty lower extremity biomechanics. Treatment options may include biomechanical analysis of gait. Splinting/bracing to alleviate the
strain on the tendon. Soft tissue mobilization/manual therapy to decrease inflammation and promote healing of the tendon. Strengthening/flexibility and proprioceptive exercises. Home exercise
program. Modalities for pain and inflammation (i.e. ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, ice). Methods to alter faulty mechanics (i.e taping, orthotics). Education about lifestyle
changes (i.e. proper shoes, activity modification).
If non-surgical approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition, surgery may be necessary. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the best procedure to repair the tendon, based upon the
extent of the injury, the patient?s age and activity level, and other factors.
Achilles tendinitis cannot always be prevented but the following tips will help you reduce your risk. If you are new to a sport, gradually ramp up your activity level to your desired intensity and
duration. If you experience pain while exercising, stop. Avoid strenuous activity that puts excessive stress on your Achilles tendon. If you have a demanding workout planned, warm up slowly and
thoroughly. Always exercise in shoes that are in good condition and appropriate for your activity or sport. Be sure to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon before and after working out. If
you suffer from Achilles tendinitis make sure you treat it properly and promptly. If self-care techniques don?t work, don?t delay. Book a consultation with a foot care expert or you may find yourself
sidelined from your favourite sports and activities.