Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis is commonly caused by an overuse of the Achilles tendon, a vital band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. It commonly happens in runners who suddenly increase the intensity or length of their runs, as well as people who play a certain sport only on the weekends. Achilles tendinitis can usually be treated with simple but strategic home care under your doctor’s supervision. These self-care strategies are necessary to prevent recurring episodes. However, the more serious cases of Achilles tendinitis can lead to sudden tendon ruptures that may require surgical repair. Symptoms to look for include:

  • -continuing mild ache above the heel or in the back of the leg after running or other sports activities that mainly use the legs.
  • -tenderness or stiffness in lower legs, especially in the morning.

What does a typical treatment look like?
Tendinitis generally responds well to self-care measures. This incudes taking over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen, or naxopren to treat any pain. Physical therapy uses specific exercises that stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon and help build stronger structure support for it. Orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts also help strengthen the tendon. When having a doctor examine it, they will gently press on the affected area to determine the exact location of pain, tenderness or swelling. He or she will evaluate the current flexibility, alignment, range of motion and reflexes of your foot and ankle to thoroughly evaluate its condition.
Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to better assess the severity your condition:

X-ray- to help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Ultrasound-to produce real-time images of the Achilles tendon in motion, and evaluate blood flow around the tendon.
MRI- to produce very detailed images of the Achilles tendon in more severe cases. Although tendinitis usually responds well to less invasive measures, after several months, more severe cases may require surgery to correctly repair the tendon.

Prevention:
While it may not be possible to prevent Achilles tendinitis, you can certainly take measures to reduce your risk:

  • -Always increase any activity level gradually. If you’re just beginning an exercise regimen, be sure to begin slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of the training.
  • -Be sure to choose your shoes carefully. Shoes worn while exercising should provide a great cushioning for your heel and a firm arch support to help reduce the tension in the Achilles tendon.
  • -Make it a habit to stretch daily. Take the time to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon in the morning, before and after exercise to continuously maintain flexibility. This is especially important to avoid reoccurring Achilles tendinitis.
  • -Strengthen your calf muscles. Strong calf muscles help the calf and Achilles tendon to better handle the stresses they encounter with activity and exercise.
  • -Cross-train instead of sticking to one main activity. Be sure to alternate high-impact activities, such as running and jumping, with low-impact activities, such as cycling and swimming. This way, your body will be balanced as it grows in strength and ability.

What are the consequences of not treating it?

If you experience persistent pain around the Achilles tendon, call your doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if the pain or disability is severe. You may have a torn (ruptured) Achilles tendon.