Origin of Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis is an overuse injury causing pain on the achilles tendon. The achilles tendon is the thick, strong tendon at the back of the ankle. Achilles tendonitis can be difficult to cure and it is important the correct treatment methods are followed.
Achilles tendonitis is a painful foot condition wherein the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, resulting in severe aching or burning near the back of the heel. Even though the Achilles tendon is one of the longest and strongest in the human body, it may take time to heal. This condition is often caused by over-pronation and overstress of the tendon and is a very common running injury. Some of the factors that can cause the development of Achilles tendonitis include tight heel cords, foot misalignment deformities and recent changes in shoes or activities. This condition can be difficult to cure and correct methods of treatment must be observed.
The condition is also called Achilles tendinopathy to describe the range of symptoms that cause pain in the Achilles tendon. There are other Achilles tendon injuries such as Achilles tendinosis and Achilles tenosynovitis but they all have similar signs and can be impossible to identify in the absence of a scan. The treatment for all conditions is similar.
Achilles tendonitis can be acute or chronic. In an acute injury, the pain experienced is recent and severe and may prevent an athlete from running. In chronic cases, the pain may be felt over a period of weeks but may not necessarily prevent activity.
Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of overuse injuries is too much stress on the Achilles tendon. Other factors can also contribute to developing the condition. Most cases are due to degeneration of the tissue particularly in cases of old athletes wherein normal fiber structure has been lost. Some cases can also involve degeneration of the tendon sheath and not the Achilles tendon itself.
Patients suffering from acute Achilles tendonitis may feel the following symptoms:
- Gradual pain at the back of the ankle above the heel bone. The pain may increase over several days.
- Pain of the Achilles tendon at the beginning of an exercise routine which diminishes as the exercise progresses. The pain may return in a prolonged session.
- The pain diminishes with rest but oftentimes worsens in the morning.
- The Achilles tendon is tender to the touch when pressed or squeezed from the sides.
Chronic Achilles tendonitis will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Onset of pain of the Achilles tendon over a period of weeks or months.
- Pain at the start and throughout an exercise routine.
- Pain in the Achilles tendon when walking or climbing a flight of stairs.
- Stiffness is felt in the Achilles tendon particularly in the morning or after resting.
- There may be modules or lumps in the Achilles tendon above the heel.
- Tenderness of the Achilles tendon to the touch when squeezed or pressed from the sides.
- Area above the Achilles tendon may be swollen or has thickened.
The treatment for this condition focuses initially on reducing pain and inflammation by stretching the muscles to make gradual resumption of activity possible. There is no single treatment for Achilles tendonitis; rather, the approach is a combination of methods that would need patience. It is important that treatment is sought at the soonest possible time to prevent the injury from becoming chronic.
Custom fitting foot orthotics will help control the down and in movement of the talus and maintain proper alignment to relieve stress on the Achilles tendon.
Some home remedies for Achilles tendon would include:
- Cold pack application to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Sufficient rest to avoid the injury from turning chronic.
- Use of a heel pad to raise the heel, allowing the Achilles tendon to rest.
- Later on, applying heat to the tendon before an exercise routine to warm it up.
Professional treatment would include:
- MRI and ultrasound scans to accurately diagnose the extent of the injury
- Prescription of anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation
- Diagnose the cause of the injury and recommend orthotics insole or a change in method of training to avoid re-injury
- Plaster casts, if necessary
- Electrotherapy and laser therapy for healing
- Surgery as a last resort