The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body and can withstand incredible force. It is no wonder that it is also the most frequently ruptured tendon – particularly amongst the athletic community. Achilles tendonitis, which is an inflammation of the tendon, is one of the most common overuse injuries that take place.
Frequent events that can cause Achilles tendonitis may include activities such as hill running or stair climbing, stemming from the natural lack of flexibility in calf muscles, rapidly increasing mileage or speed when walking, jogging, or running, starting up too quickly after a layoff in exercise or sports activity without adequately stretching and warming up the foot, trauma caused by sudden or hard contraction of the calf muscles when putting extra effort – such as in a sprint, and improper footwear and/or tendency towards overpronation.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis often begin with mild pain after exercise, which then gradually progresses to more severe pain. Recurring localized pain, sometimes severe, may be present along the tendon during or a few hours after running. Morning tenderness about an inch and a half above the Achilles tendon’s point of attachment to the heel bone, sluggishness in your leg, mild or severe swelling, and stiffness that generally diminishes as the tendon warms up with use could also become more noticeable as time passes.
If you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, you should visit your physician for a diagnosis. Treatment protocols usually include a bandage specifically designed to limit the movement of the tendon, taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication for a period of time (which you should consult your physician before taking any medication), orthotics – corrective shoe inserts designed to help support the muscle, and relieve stress on the tendon. Depending on the severity and length of the problem, both non-prescription orthoses such as heel pads or over-the-counter shoe inserts and prescribed custom orthotics may be suggested in different cases. Other standard treatment methods are rest and switching to exercises that do not stress the tendon, such as swimming, along with stretching and exercises to strengthen the weak muscle group in front of the leg, calf, upward foot flexors, as well as massage and ultrasound therapy.
While this covers most cases, in some extreme cases, surgery may be performed to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any tears. If you are looking for help with Achilles tendonitis or any other injury related to your feet, we suggest you see Dr Gilbert Huang DPM. He is a practiced medical professional with a passion for helping patients with their injuries. Consulting Dr Gilbert Huang DPM is your first step towards a speedy and healthy recovery.