Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the tendon, which usually occurs as a result of overuse injury. Anyone can have Achilles tendonitis. Athletics involving
frequent jumping is the classic cause, but certainly not the only one. Any activity requiring a constant pushing off the foot, such as running or dancing, may result in swelling of the tendon.
There are two large muscles in the calf. These muscles are important for walking. They create the power needed to push off with the foot or go up on the toes. The large Achilles tendon connects these
muscles to the heel. Heel pain is most often due to overuse of the foot. Rarely it is caused by an injury. Tendinitis due to overuse is most common in younger people. It can occur in walkers,
runners, or other athletes. Achilles tendinitis may be more likely to occur if you Suddenly increase the amount or intensity of an activity. Your calf muscles are very tight (not stretched out). You
run on hard surfaces such as concrete. You run too often, you jump a lot (such as when playing basketball), you do not have shoes with proper support, your foot suddenly turns in or out. Tendinitis
from arthritis is more common in middle-aged and elderly people. A bone spur or growth may form in the back of the heel bone. This may irritate the Achilles tendon and cause pain and swelling.
Pain in the back of the heel that can be a shooting pain, burning pain or even an intense piercing pain. Swelling, tenderness and warmth over the Achilles tendon especially at the insertion of the
tendon to the calcaneous, which may even extend into the muscle of the calf. Difficulty walking, sometimes the pain makes walking impossible. Pain that is aggravated by activities that repeatedly
stress the tendon, causing inflammation or pain that occurs in the first few steps of the morning or after sitting down for extended periods of time which gets better with mild activity. It is
important to note though that achilles tendinosis can develop gradually without a history of trauma.
During the physical exam, your doctor will gently press on the affected area to determine the location of pain, tenderness or swelling. He or she will also evaluate the flexibility, alignment, range
of motion and reflexes of your foot and ankle. Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to assess your condition, X-rays. While X-rays can't visualize soft tissues such as tendons,
they may help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Ultrasound. This device uses sound waves to visualize soft tissues like tendons. Ultrasound can also produce real-time images
of the Achilles tendon in motion. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using radio waves and a very strong magnet, MRI machines can produce very detailed images of the Achilles tendon.
There are a variety of treatments for Achilles tendonitis. These range from rest and aspirin to steroid injections and surgery. Your doctor might suggest, reducing your physical activity, stretching
and strengthening the calf muscles, switching to a different, less strenuous sport, icing the area after exercise or when in pain, raising your foot to decrease swelling, wearing a brace or
compressive elastic bandage to prevent heel movement, undergoing physical therapy, taking anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen) for a limited time, getting steroid injections,
Sometimes more conservative treatments are not effective. In these cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the Achilles tendon. If the condition intensifies and is left untreated, there?s a greater
risk of an Achilles rupture. This can cause sharp pain in the heel area.
Surgery is an option of last resort. However, if friction between the tendon and its covering sheath makes the sheath thick and fibrous, surgery to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any tears may
be the best treatment option.
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.