The strong band of tissue that runs from the calf muscles to the heel bone is known as the Achilles tendon. When this tendon is overused, which is frequent among runners, dancers, and other athletes, it can become inflamed and extremely painful. This condition is called Achilles tendinopathy. The top cause of Achilles tendinopathy is overuse, which tears or stretches the tendon and causes inflammation. Other causes include certain types of arthritis, flat feet, and overpronation. In addition, wearing shoes that lack adequate support, being overweight, and taking certain antibiotics may increase the likelihood of developing Achilles tendinopathy. There are a number of treatments available for Achilles tendinopathy, but healing time depends on the severity of the injury. In some cases, surgery is required. There are several ways to prevent tendinopathy, including stretching exercises and warmup and cool-down routines. Wearing proper footwear is another way to help prevent this injury. For more information, it is suggested that you consult a podiatrist. 

Achilles tendon injuries need immediate attention to avoid future complications. If you have any concerns, contact Alex Yanovskiy, DPM of Illinois Foot & Ankle Clinic. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Is the Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles tendon is a tendon that connects the lower leg muscles and calf to the heel of the foot. It is the strongest tendon in the human body and is essential for making movement possible. Because this tendon is such an integral part of the body, any injuries to it can create immense difficulties and should immediately be presented to a doctor.

What Are the Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Injury?

There are various types of injuries that can affect the Achilles tendon. The two most common injuries are Achilles tendinitis and ruptures of the tendon.

Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms

  • Inflammation
  • Dull to severe pain
  • Increased blood flow to the tendon
  • Thickening of the tendon

Rupture Symptoms

  • Extreme pain and swelling in the foot
  • Total immobility

Treatment and Prevention

Achilles tendon injuries are diagnosed by a thorough physical evaluation, which can include an MRI. Treatment involves rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. However, various preventative measures can be taken to avoid these injuries, such as:

Thorough stretching of the tendon before and after exercise
Strengthening exercises like calf raises, squats, leg curls, leg extensions, leg raises, lunges, and leg presses
If you have any questions please feel free to contact our office located in Des Plaines , IL . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

The Causes, Types, and Treatments of Achilles Tendon Injuries

Tendons are fibrous tissues that connect muscles with bone. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles at the back of the leg with the heel, and facilitates movements such as jumping, running, and walking. 

Because the Achilles tendon is engaged so frequently and bears a great deal of pressure and stress throughout the day, it can become injured. Achilles tendon injuries cause the tissue to become irritated, inflamed, and swollen. Pain can come on gradually or be immediate, and will vary from mild to severe depending upon the injury. Where the pain occurs will vary as well, from just above the heel up through the back of the leg. There may also be stiffness in the tendon.

Achilles tendon injuries can often be caused by repetitive stress. They may also occur while running, playing tennis, gymnastics, football, basketball, dancing, soccer, baseball or other sports that require speeding up, slowing down, or pivoting quickly. Wearing high heels, falling from an elevation, stepping in a hole, having flat feet, bone spurs, tight leg muscles or tendons, wearing improper athletic shoes, exercising on uneven surfaces, or starting a new type of exercise can also cause Achilles tendon injuries.

The two most common Achilles tendon injuries are tendonitis and ruptures. Tendonitis causes painful inflammation and can occur in different parts of the tendon. Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when the fibers in middle of the tendon begin to break down, thicken, and swell. This condition typically affects younger, more active adults. Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs where the tendon inserts into the heel bone. It is common for bone spurs to form with this type of injury. This condition can affect people of any age and level of activity.

Achilles tendon ruptures are a tear in the tendon. These breaks may be partial or complete. There may be an audible popping noise at the moment of injury and the pain will be sudden and severe.

An Achilles tendon injury can be diagnosed by your podiatrist after they examine you, check your range of motion, and possibly perform a calf squeeze test or review an X-ray or MRI. Depending on the type and severity of your injury, your podiatrist may treat your condition with rest/ice/compression/elevation (RICE), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, heel lifts, and stretching and strengthening exercises. If you have torn your Achilles tendon, treatment may include physical therapy, ultrasound, shockwave therapy, or possibly even surgery.

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