Achilles Tendinitis is a painful condition. Running and walking are made possible by the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. Strenuous exercise,
jumping, and climbing are all movements that can strain the tendon and calf muscles, causing an inflammation known as tendinitis. The injury to the Achilles can be mild, requiring only rest and
over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, or severe, necessitating surgical repair of the damaged tendon. Chronic Achilles tendinitis can lead to micro tears in the tissue (tendinosis), which weaken
the tendon and put it at risk for severe damage such as a tear or rupture.
The Achilles tendon is a strong band of connective tissue that attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. When the muscle contracts, the tendon transmits the power of this contraction to the heel,
producing movement. The Achilles tendon moves through a protective sheath and is made up of thousands of tiny fibres. It is thought that Achilles tendonitis develops when overuse of the tendon causes
the tiny fibres that make up the tendon to tear. This causes inflammation, pain and swelling. As the tendon swells it can begin to rub against the sheath surrounding it, irritating the sheath and
causing it too to become inflamed and swollen. It has a poor blood supply, which can make it susceptible to injury and can make recovery from injury slow. Factors that can lead to the development of
Achilles tendonitis include, tight or weak calf muscles, rapidly increasing the amount or intensity of exercise. Hill climbing or stair climbing exercises. Changes in footwear, particularly changing
from wearing high-heeled shoes to wearing flat shoes. Wearing inadequate or inappropriate shoes for the sporting activity being undertaken. Not adequately warming up and stretching prior to exercise.
A sudden sharp movement that causes the calf muscles to contract and the stress on the Achilles tendon to be increased. This can cause the tendon fibres to tear.
Achilles tendonitis may be felt as a burning pain at the beginning of activity, which gets less during activity and then worsens following activity. The tendon may feel stiff first thing in the
morning or at the beginning of exercise. Achilles tendonitis usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area. The pain may get worse when you use your Achilles tendon. You
may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning. The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation. You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling
when you use the tendon.
There is enlargement and warmth of the tendon 1 to 4 inches above its heel insertion. Pain and sometimes a scratching feeling may be created by gently squeezing the tendon between the thumb and
forefinger during ankle motion. There may be weakness in push-off strength with walking. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can define the extent of degeneration, the degree to which the tendon sheath
is involved and the presence of other problems in this area, but the diagnosis is mostly clinical.
Many physical therapies exist to help with the pain. We have found the combination of modalities, stretching, acupuncture, footwear modification and myofascial release to be very effective. In
resilient cases, a promising new treatment called Radial Shockwave may be indicated. The key to the treatment of this, and other foot problems, is an accurate diagnosis. With this, a treatment
regimen tailored to you and your specific situation can be devised. We treat many acute and chronic achilles tendinitis in Edmonton and St. Albert, so remember ?it shouldn?t hurt.?
Your doctor may recommend surgery if, after around six months, other treatments haven?t worked and your symptoms are having an impact on your day-to-day life. Surgery involves removing damaged areas
of your tendon and repairing them.
Stay in good shape year-round and try to keep your muscles as strong as they can be. Strong, flexible muscles work more efficiently and put less stress on your tendon. Increase the intensity and
length of your exercise sessions gradually. This is especially important if you've been inactive for a while or you're new to a sport. Always warm up before you go for a run or play a sport. If your
muscles are tight, your Achilles tendons have to work harder to compensate. Stretch it out. Stretch your legs, especially your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and thigh muscles - these muscles help
stabilize your knee while running. Get shoes that fit properly and are designed for your sport. If you're a jogger, go to a running specialty store and have a trained professional help you select
shoes that match your foot type and offer plenty of support. Replace your shoes before they become worn out. Try to run on softer surfaces like grass, dirt trails, or synthetic tracks. Hard surfaces
like concrete or asphalt can put extra pressure on the joints. Also avoid running up or down hills as much as possible. Vary your exercise routine. Work different muscle groups to keep yourself in
good overall shape and keep individual muscles from getting overused. If you notice any symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, stop running or doing activities that put stress on your feet. Wait until all
the pain is gone or you have been cleared to start participating again by a doctor.