The Achilles tendon
is the largest tendon in the body. Tendons are long, tough cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The Achilles tendon is located in the back of the foot and connects your heel bone to your calf
muscle. It helps you to walk, run and jump. The Achilles tendon is able to endure stress, but sometimes injury can occur to the tendon when overly stressed. Overuse of the Achilles tendon may cause
the tendon to swell, become irritated, inflamed and cause pain. This is Achilles tendinitis. It is a common sports injury related to running, but can happen to anyone who puts a lot of stress on
their feet (e.g.: basketball players and dancers). If you do not get treatment for Achilles tendinitis, the problem can become chronic and make it difficult for you to walk.
There are several factors that can contribute to achilles tendonitis. First, you should know that the biggest contributor to chronic achilles tendonitis is ignoring pain in your achilles tendon and
running through the pain of early achilles tendonitis. If your achilles tendon is getting sore it is time to pay attention to it, immediately. Sudden increases in training can contribute to achilles
tendonitis. Excessive hill running or a sudden addition of hills and speed work can also contribute to this problem. Two sole construction flaws can also aggravate achilles tendonitis. The first is a
sole that is too stiff, especially at the ball of the foot. (In case you are having difficulty locating the "ball" of your foot, I mean the part where the toes join the foot and at which the foot
bends) If this area is stiff than the "lever arm" of the foot is longer and the achilles tendon will be under increased tension and the calf muscles must work harder to lift the heel off the ground.
The second contributing shoe design factor which may lead to continuing achilles tendon problem is excessive heel cushioning. Air filled heels, while supposedly are now more resistant to deformation
and leaks are not good for a sore achilles tendon. The reason for this is quite simple. If you are wearing a shoe that is designed to give great heel shock absorption what frequently happens is that
after heel contact, the heel continues to sink lower while the shoe is absorbing the shock. This further stretches the achilles tendon, at a time when the leg and body are moving forward over the
foot. Change your shoes to one without this "feature". Of course another major factor is excessive tightness of the posterior leg muscles, the calf muscles and the hamstrings may contribute to
prolonged achilles tendonitis. Gentle calf stretching should be performed preventatively. During a bout of acute achilles tendonitis, however, overly exuberant stretching should not be
Achilles tendonitis typically starts off as a dull stiffness in the tendon, which gradually goes away as the area gets warmed up. It may get worse with faster running, uphill running, or when wearing
spikes and other low-heeled running shoes. If you continue to train on it, the tendon will hurt more sharply and more often, eventually impeding your ability even to jog lightly. About two-thirds of
Achilles tendonitis cases occur at the ?midpoint? of the tendon, a few inches above the heel. The rest are mostly cases of ?insertional? Achilles tendonitis, which occurs within an inch or so of the
heelbone. Insertional Achilles tendonitis tends to be more difficult to get rid of, often because the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac right behind the tendon, can become irritated as well.
Laboratory studies usually are not necessary in evaluating and diagnosing an Achilles tendon rupture or injury, although evaluation may help to rule out some of the other possibilities in the
differential diagnosis. Imaging studies. Plain radiography: Radiographs are more useful for ruling out other injuries than for ruling in Achilles tendon ruptures. Ultrasonography: Ultrasonography of
the leg and thigh can help to evaluate the possibility of deep venous thrombosis and also can be used to rule out a Baker cyst; in experienced hands, ultrasonography can identify a ruptured Achilles
tendon or the signs of tendinosis. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): MRI can facilitate definitive diagnosis of a disrupted tendon and can be used to distinguish between paratenonitis, tendinosis,
As with most soft tissue injuries the initial treatment is RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. In the early phase you?ll be unable to walk without a limp, so your Achilles tendon needs some
active rest from weight-bearing loads. You may need to be non or partial-weight-bearing, utilise crutches, a wedged achilles walking boot or heel wedges to temporarily relieve some of the pressure on
the Achilles tendon. Your physiotherapist will advise you on what they feel is best for you. Ice is a simple and effective modality to reduce your pain and swelling. Please apply for 20-30 minutes
each 2 to 4 hours during the initial phase or when you notice that your injury is warm or hot. Anti-inflammatory medication (if tolerated) and natural substances eg arnica may help reduce your pain
and swelling. However, it is best to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during the initial 48 to 72 hours when they may encourage additional bleeding. Most people can tolerate paracetamol as a pain
reducing medication. As you improve a kinesio style supportive taping will help to both support the injured soft tissue.
Around 1 in 4 people who have persisting pain due to Achilles tendinopathy has surgery to treat the condition. Most people have a good result from surgery and their pain is relieved. Surgery involves
either of the following, removing nodules or adhesions (parts of the fibres of the tendon that have stuck together) that have developed within the damaged tendon. Making a lengthways cut in the
tendon to help to stimulate and encourage tendon healing. Complications from surgery are not common but, if they do occur, can include problems with wound healing.
Suggestions to reduce your risk of Achilles tendonitis include, incorporate stretching into your warm-up and cool-down routines, maintain an adequate level of fitness for your sport, avoid dramatic
increases in sports training, if you experience pain in your Achilles tendon, rest the area. Trying to ?work through? the pain will only make your injury worse, wear good quality supportive shoes
appropriate to your sport. If there is foot deformity or flattening, obtain orthoses, avoid wearing high heels on a regular basis. Maintaining your foot in a ?tiptoe? position shortens your calf
muscles and reduces the flexibility of your Achilles tendon. An inflexible Achilles tendon is more susceptible to injury, maintain a normal healthy weight.