The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body and is located at the back of the ankle. It connects the calf muscles to the back of the calcaneus bone and the leg to the foot. It offers the power your foot needs during the the push off phase of the gait cycle were forces are transmitted via the tendon whilst running and walking.
Persistent, intense physical activity, like jumping and running, can cause painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This is sometimes a tricky injury to heal but with sufficient treatment and strengthening exercises a recovery can be achieved.
Symptoms are often brought on because of inflammation and swelling of the tissue (paratenon) which encompasses the Achilles tendon.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include swelling in the region and pain that is acute or mild. The pain can come on gradually or may happen when you run or walk. You might have suffer from lack of strength or motion in the ankle as a result. This condition can also make the skin in your heels feel warm to your touch. If you suspect that you are suffering from Achilles tendinitis it is recommended to go see a physiotherapist for a proper diagnosis. Your physiotherapist will ask you a couple of questions regarding the swelling and pain on your heels or calf to diagnose Achilles tendinitis. Your physiotherapist may request that you stand up on to the balls of the your and assess the assortment of flexibility and movement of your ankle. The physiotherapist may also feel your feet to pinpoint the region where the swelling and pain are most intense. Tendinitis is not related to any specific foot condition. The issue results from overuse and strain on the ankle. Other factors such as biomechanical imbalances can increase your chances of developing tendinitis, although the most common cause is just simply overdoing things and over stretching your ankle.
Some common causes include:
Wearing shoes that are too tight or do not properly support your feet.
Not warming up properly before exercise.
Straining the calf muscles during activity or exercise.
Playing sports, like tennis, that require sudden stopping and twisting of the ankle.
An increased level of activity involving the ankle, for example beginning a new training regime.
Trying to resume a normal action level to a different region of the ankle or foot following an injury.
Wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time increasing strain on the ankle.
Having bone spurs in the back of your heels that place excessive pressure on the achilles when wearing shoes.
Old age, the Achilles tendon weakens with age making it more susceptible to becoming damaged.
Best treatment options Most instances of Achilles tendinitis can be treated without the supervision of your doctor. More-serious instances of Achilles tendinitis may result in tendon tears (ruptures) which will require surgical repair.
In cases that are mild, it may take weeks even months months of rest for the injury to properly heal. It is essential to be patient, not return soon to activities and sports that stress the tendon.
Stop running if you begin experiencing Achilles pain.
Take ibuprofen or aspirin, and ice the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes multiple times a day. Light stretching and massaging the affected the area may also help.
Make sure you do not wear tight fitting shoes that do not properly support your feet as this could worsen or precipitate symptoms. Wearing “orthotic” shoes with supportive insoles is also advised. Supportive insoles also help to support your feet and realign the bones and ligaments in your foot and ankle helping them to function more naturally. This in turn helps to prevent strain and pressure from further damaging your Achilles.
You may also find wearing trainers with the inclusion of a heel lift within the shoe, or with an elevated heel may help. A heightened heel will help to take load off of the the Achilles tendon allowing it to heal.