Achilles tendonitis is a common orthopedic condition affecting the largest tendon of the body, the Achilles tendon. This tendon is the connector between the calf muscles and the heel bone. It is used when one walks, runs and jumps. The Achilles tendon can withstand a lot of pressure, but is prone to degeneration. Let’s learn more about Achilles tendinitis from the following paragraphs.
Achilles tendinitis is the overuse of Achilles tendon of the affected limb causing inflammation. It is common in runners, joggers, jumpers due to the repetitive action carried out in these sports. The stress of repetitive movement or high impact exercise can lead to tearing and rupture of the tendon. In most cases, plenty of rest and little home treatment help overcome Achilles tendonitis.
Signs and Symptoms
The common signs and symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the extent of injury of the tendon. These common indications of Achilles tendonitis include:
- Pain that varies from a dull ache to intense, unbearable pain
- Pain at the back of the leg or above the heel when running or climbing stairs
- Stiffness of lower leg
- Lower leg feels slow and weak
- Pain in the Achilles tendon after running for a couple of hours
- Swelling or formation of bump around the Achilles tendon
The main cause of Achilles tendinitis is excessive exercising. Thus, most atheletes suffer from Achilles tendinitis. Repetitive and intense strain of the Achilles tendon can also lead to inflammation. At times with age, the tendon becomes more susceptible to injury. When middle aged people play badminton or tennis, they suddenly develop tendinitis due to the wear and tear of the tendon.
The doctor will conduct a physical examination of the site of pain. The affected area will be gently pressed on to determine the location of pain, tenderness and swelling. Also, the alignment, flexibility and range of motion of the ankle and foot will be assessed.
Apart from the physical examination, the doctor will ask for an X-ray, ultrasound of the tendons and MRI for further investigations.
Treatment for Achilles tendinitis includes application of ice compression. One can wear heel pads to reduce the strain on the tendon. Wearing ankle and lower calf elastic bands will also help in reducing the pain. Medications such an ibuprofen, naproxen, or stronger medications may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical exercises such as stretching and strengthening exercises will also prove to be useful. If the conservative treatments do not work and the pain becomes intense, the doctor may suggest surgery to repair the injured Achilles tendon.
Achilles tendinitis usually occurs from training in improper or worn out shoes. One should rest at appropriate intervals when exercising or training. This will prevent extra stress from injuring the body muscles. Atheletes should carry out preventive exercises that help strengthening the muscles. Speak to your trainer or doctor regarding Achilles tendinitis treatment and ways to protect the tendon from injury.
Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 05, 2015