>> Jun 16, 2016
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the calcaneus or the heel bone. This tendon is often used when running, walking, jumping, and standing on the balls of the feet.
Intense and continuous physical activity like jumping and running can cause the Achilles tendons to get inflamed.
This painful inflammation is what is commonly known as Achilles tendinitis (tendonitis).
In most cases, excessive walking or exercise are identified as the likely culprits for the condition. That being said, it’s not surprising if Achilles tendinitis is especially common among athletes.
However, in some cases, factors that are not related to exercise can also contribute to the risk. For instance, infection and rheumatoid arthritis have been correlated with the condition.
In essence, repeated activities that put stress and strain to the Achilles tendon causes the condition to manifest.
Other possible causes include:
- Straining the calf muscles due to physical activity or repeated exercise
- Exercising sans proper warm-up
- Engaging in sports that require hasty changes of direction and stops (i.e. tennis, football, basketball, etc.)
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly
- Wearing high heels for long periods
Certain factors have also been known to increase one’s risk of developing Achilles tendinitis.
Some of these factors include:
- Age – The condition is likely to occur more often as the individual ages
- Sex – Achilles tendinitis is more common among men
- edical conditions – People with psoriasis and high blood pressure are more predisposed to Achilles injury compared to their counterparts who don’t suffer from the two conditions
- Physical problems – More strain is placed on the Achilles tendon when the individual has a flat arch. Also, obesity and tight calf muscles can also put stress and strain to the tendons.
- Training choices – Wearing worn out shoes and running on hilly terrains have been known to increase one’s chances of developing Achilles injury.
Main symptoms of the condition include swelling and pain in the heel’s posterior part especially when walking or running. Other common symptoms that manifest include tenderness and stiffness in the affected area, tightened calf muscles, and limited motion range. If the skin on the heel becomes overly warm to the touch, it can also be a telltale sign of Achilles tendinitis.
To accurately diagnose the condition, the doctor would need to ask a few questions about the swelling and the pain. You might also be asked to stand on the balls of your feet. This is done so the doctor can observe the flexibility and range of motion. To pinpoint where the swelling and pain is most intense, the doctor will have to palpate the area directly.
In some cases, imaging tests might be ordered but oftentimes, they are deemed unnecessary.
Fortunately, there are plenty of treatment options available for those who are suffering from the condition. Course of treatment can range from taking medications (ibuprofen), surgery, and steroid injections.
Your doctor will also likely suggest the following:
- Strengthening and stretching the calf muscles
- Minimizing physical activity
- Icing the area when in pain and after exercise
- Having physical therapy
- Elevating the affected foot to decrease swelling
- Wearing a compressive elastic bandage or brace to minimize heel movement
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen
- Engaging in sports that is less strenuous
- Getting steroid injections
If the condition does not respond to non-invasive options, surgery might be required. In most cases, surgery is carried out to repair the tendon. Left untreated, the condition can intensify and puts the patient in the greater risk of an Achilles rupture.