The achilles tendon runs down the back of the lower leg to link the calf muscle to the heel bone. If this tendon is put under excess strain, it may become inflamed. This condition is called achilles tendinitis, and it can cause a lot of pain. It’s important to know about the causes, symptoms and treatments for the condition. This article will teach you all you need to know!
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
As previously touched on, achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the achilles tendon, a very painful and uncomfortable condition for anyone who has it. Because it affects our feet, it makes it hard to go about our daily routines without treatment. Achilles tendinitis generally occurs in runner who have increased the intensity or duration of their runs, or other people who play sports. Although there are some invasive procedures that can fix it, it’s still considered a high-risk operation.
Because inflammation is a natural bodily response to injury, the condition is often approached with self-care strategies given by doctors. More serious cases can lead to tendon ruptures, which will require surgical intervention and operation.
Types of Achilles Tendinitis
There are two different types of Achilles tendinitis, depending on which part of the tendon is inflamed.
- Insertional Achilles tendinitis: this involves the lower part of the heel, where the tendon is attached to the heel bone.
- Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis: in this type, the fibers in the middle part of the tendon begin to degenerate, thicken and swell. This is more common in younger and more active people.
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Here are some of the most common causes of Achilles tendinitis:
- Sudden intense physical activity, like sprinting to reach the finish line
- The calf muscle isn’t flexible or is injured, thus putting more strain on the tendon.
- Running on uneven or hard surfaces.
- Introducing more strenuous physical activity prematurely.
- Not warming up appropriately before exercising.
- Using worn out or incorrect shoes while exercising.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
The main symptom of Achilles tendinitis is the gradual buildup of pain, which becomes worse as time goes by. Furthermore, the sufferer may also notice the following:
- Pain in the tendon when moved or touched.
- Swelling, or a bump formation, of the achilles tendon.
- Increased pain when running quickly, for a longer duration or up stairs.
- Stiff, weak, or slow lower leg.
- Soreness around the tendon a few centimeters above where it meets the heel bone.
Here are some factors that may contribute increased risk of Achilles tendinitis:
- Medical conditions
- Training choices
- Physical conditions
Treatments for Achilles Tendinitis
The treatments for Achilles tendinitis mainly aim to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Further treatments, if needed, will depend on the severity of the condition and whether or not the patient is an athlete.
Here are some methods to treat the condition:
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy: high-energy shockwaves are used to stimulate the healing process.
- Orthotic devices and compression bandages: some devices, such as shoe inserts and ankle support, are beneficial for recovery.
- Steroid injections: various steroid injections, like cortisone, may help reduce swelling. However, steroids have also been connected to increased risk of rupture.
- Pain relief: some NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, may help reduce swelling and pain, but check with your doctor first.
- Elevating the foot: this helps reduce swelling in the tendon.
- Rest: this helps give tissue enough time to heal. The duration of healing depends on the severity of the condition.
- Ice pack: this will help alleviate inflammation and pain.
With proper care, attention and treatments, achilles tendinitis can and will disappear.