If you have been feeling tenderness, pain, or discomfort around your ankle, you may be suffering from Achilles tendinitis.
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
The body’s largest tendon is the Achilles tendon. It joins your calf muscles to your heel bone muscles and is used when walking, climbing stairs, running, standing on your tiptoes, and jumping. The Achilles tendon can endure plenty of stress from jumping and running, but it is also prone to tendinitis, which is a condition that results from overuse and deterioration.
Achilles tendinitis refers to the irritation and inflammation of this large tendon. This condition exists in two forms:
- Insertional Achilles tendinitis is when the lower section of your tendon, which connects to the heel bone, is affected.
- Noninsertional Achilles tendinitis: Common among active young adults, this condition involves small tears in the fibers of the central region of your tendon.
The most common symptoms associated with Achilles tendinitis are:-
- Morning stiffness and pain along the Achilles tendon
- Pain that intensifies with motion along the tendon or at the back of the heel
- severe discomfort experienced the next day after exercising
- Tendon thickening
- Bone spurs (insertional tendinitis)
- Constant swelling that gets worse as the day progresses
You may have torn (ruptured) your Achilles tendon if you feel a sudden “pop” in the back of your leg or heel. In this case, visit your doctor right away.
What Causes Achilles Tendinitis?
Repetitive stress on the tendon causes Achilles tendinitis. However, other variables can increase the risk of developing tendinitis. They include:
- Increase in the volume or intensity of workouts without providing your body time to adjust.
- Tight calf muscles –The Achilles tendon might be overworked if your calf muscles are tight and you start an intense training routine all of a sudden.
- Bone spurs – Where the Achilles tendon joins the heel bone, extra bone growth might rub against the tendon, causing pain.
Once diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis, there are several treatment options to consider with your doctor. They range from simple rest and anti-inflammatory prescriptions to more invasive procedures such as surgery, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections and steroid injections.
Other common treatments for Achilles tendonitis include:
- Applying ice to the affected region when in pain or after exercising
- Raising your foot to reduce swelling
- Putting on a walking boot or brace to avoid heel movement
- Minimizing physical activity
- Shifting to low-impact workouts, like swimming
- Doing gentle stretches followed by calf muscle strengthening exercises
- Going to physical therapy
- Using anti-inflammatory medicines, like ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin (Bufferin)
- Wearing shoes designed with a built-up heel to help relieve tension on the Achilles tendon
Depending on the condition’s location and severity, you may have to undergo Achilles tendon surgery. The surgery may involve:
- Gastrocnemius recession (lengthening of the calf muscles).
- Tendon repair.
- Moving another tendon to the heel bone to strengthen the region.
The procedure may also involve removing the damaged tendon tissue, bone spurs, or both.
After proper home treatment and some rest, the acute symptoms of Achilles tendinitis tend to go away after a few days. However, if the pain lingers for weeks, or you suspect that you have a torn tendon, contact us immediately.