The Achilles tendon
connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel. Injuries to the Achilles tendon are common, as it is in constant use during walking and running. These injuries, known as Achilles tendinitis, are
usually the result of overuse damage and minor tears that have accumulated over years. Your risk of developing Achilles tendinitis increases with age and activity level. Many athletes develop
Achilles tendinitis. The tendon may be injured several inches away from where it attaches to the foot or at the point of attachment. An injury at the point of attachment is called Achilles
enthesopathy. We recommend a combination of treatments over a period of months that may include wearing supportive shoes or orthotic devices, performing stretching exercises, and icing the affected
area. If these treatments are not effective, or if the tendon is completely torn, we may recommend surgery.
Achilles tendonitis is a common sports injury caused by repeated or intense strain on the tendon. But non-athletes also can get it if they put a lot of stress on their feet. Other things that
contribute to Achilles tendonitis include. An increase in activity. Starting a training program after a period of inactivity or adding miles or hills to a jogging regimen are two examples of things
that put people at risk for Achilles tendonitis. Sports that require sudden starts and stops; for example, tennis and basketball. A change in footwear, or wearing old or badly fitting shoes. New
shoes, worn-out shoes, or the wrong size shoes can cause a person's feet to overcompensate and put stress on the Achilles tendon. Additionally, wearing high heels all the time can cause the tendon
and calf muscles to get shorter, and the switch to flat shoes and exercise can put extra strain on the heel. Running up hills. Going uphill forces the Achilles tendon to stretch beyond its normal
range. Weak calf muscles, flat arches, "overpronation" (feet that roll in when running), or "oversupination" (feet that roll out when running). Overpronation and oversupination make the lower leg
rotate and put a twisting stress on the tendon. Exercising without warming up. Tight calf muscles or muscles that lack flexibility decrease a person's range of motion and put an extra strain on the
tendon. Running or exercising on a hard or uneven surface or doing lunges or plyometrics without adequate training. A traumatic injury to the Achilles tendon.
Common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include, pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon in the morning, pain along the tendon or back of the heel that worsens with activity, Severe pain the day
after exercising, thickening of the tendon, bone spur (insertional tendinitis) swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day with activity, If you have experienced a sudden
"pop" in the back of your calf or heel, you may have ruptured (torn) your Achilles tendon. See your doctor immediately if you think you may have torn your tendon.
If you think you have Achilles tendinitis, make an appointment to see your doctor. The doctor will ask you questions about your recent activity and look for signs. The foot not flexing when the calf
muscle is pressed ( if Achilles ruptures or tears in half). Swelling on the back of the foot. Pain in the back of the foot. Limited range of motion in ankle. An X-ray or MRI scan can check for
Treatment options might include anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen which might help with acute achilles inflammation and pain but has not been proven to be beneficial long term and may
even inhibit healing. If the injury is severe then a plaster cast might be applied to immobilize the tendon. Use of electrotherapy such as ultrasound treatment, laser therapy and extracorporeal shock
wave therapy (ESWT) may be beneficial in reducing pain and encouraging healing. Applying sports massage techniques can mobilze the tissues or the tendon itself and help stretch the calf muscles. Some
might give a steroid injection however an injection directly into the tendon is not recommended. Some specialists believe this can increase the risk of a total rupture of the tendon in future. One of
the most effective forms of treatment for achilles tendonitis is a full rehabilitation program consisting of eccentric strengthening exercises. There is now considerable evidence suggesting the
effectiveness of slow eccentric rehabilitation exercises for curing achilles tendon pain.
In cases of severe, long-term Achilles tendonitis the sheath may become thick and fibrous. In these cases surgery may be recommended. Surgery aims to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any tears in
the tendon. A cast or splint will be required after the operation and a recovery program including physiotherapy, specific exercises and a gradual return to activity will be planned.
If you're just getting started with your training, be sure to stretch after running, and start slowly, increasing your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Strengthen your calf muscles with
exercises such as toe raises. Work low-impact cross-training activities, such as cycling and swimming, into your training.