Achilles Tendon Injury Overview

Achilles Tendon Injury Overview

The Achilles tendon is a strong and important part of our body that helps us walk, run, and do other activities that require us to put weight on our feet. Because we use it so often, it can sometimes get hurt. If we don't take care of it properly or give it enough rest, we might end up with an Achilles tendon injury.

If you've been experiencing pain, stiffness or swelling in your heel, it could be due to a condition called Achilles tendonitis. This may make it difficult to do everyday things like walking or running.
But, the good news is that there are simple and effective ways to treat it. Keep reading to learn more about what causes Achilles tendonitis and how you can prevent and treat it.

Tendonitis of the Achilles

Achilles tendonitis is usually caused by the overuse of the tendon, which causes inflammation and irritation. The Achilles tendon connects the muscle of the calf to the foot, and it withstands the stress of standing while balancing, running, walking, and stopping. Therefore, tight calves can increase the chance of Achilles tendonitis.

Types of Achilles Tendonitis

There are various types of Achilles tendonitis, each requiring a slightly different approach to treatment and recovery. Here are the most prevalent types.

Chronic Achilles Tendonitis

Chronic Achilles tendonitis causes pain that lasts and usually gets worse over a time that is six weeks or longer. An Achilles tendon injury causes it and is a common occurrence among runners. However, chronic problems can often be prevented if acute symptoms are treated quickly and effectively.

Acute Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can be described as an abrupt onset of swelling, pain, or a failure to move the toes. While the onset of symptoms may be rapid, it's typically due to an overuse injury or sudden changes in the activity level. The tendons are simply at the "breaking point" where symptoms start to manifest. The pain is felt between the calf's lower part as well as the upper part of the ankle.

Insertional Achilles Tendonitis

Inseparional Achilles tendonitis pain usually occurs in the heel's back, in which the tendon's fibers have become weak because of inflammation. The pain increases over time and can be more noticeable during intense pushing movements.

What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis can be described as a wear and tear injury usually caused by excess tension and pressure on the tendon. Four common problems contribute to the formation of Achilles tendonitis.

1. Sudden Activity Increase

Although the Achilles tendon was designed to withstand extreme stress, sudden increases in exercise or intensity could result in tendonitis. For example, intensely adding miles to your walking or running routine could cause repeated stress on the ankles and legs when they aren't ready to take on the workload and could lead to injuries. Instead, gradually increase your exercise intensity to avoid injuries to the tendon or rupture.

2. Tight Calf Muscles

The Achilles tendon connects the muscles of the calf and the heel. A tight calf muscle places extra tension on the tendon itself, Which puts the lower leg in a state of imbalance with everyday routines and activities, leading to injury.

3. Bone Spur

Heel spurs are tiny bony growths, usually appearing close to the point of insertion of the Achilles tendon at the heel. The tendon can become sore because it gets caught with the bony protrusion, which causes pain and inflammation. Bone spurs on the heel are usually caused by an imbalance in the ankle, foot, and ankle, for example, tight muscles of the calf. If the bone spurs don't get addressed, they can cause Achilles tendonitis that they cause could become severe.

4. Poor Lower Leg Biomechanics

The calf muscles are intended to work in harmony together with all muscles of the body to coordinate movement effectively. The most frequent problems that cause inadequate biomechanics and Achilles tendonitis are flat arches, excessive ankle pronation when running and walking, glute weakness in hip alignment, and even weak muscles in the core.

Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are usually discovered during moderate to vigorous physical exercise at the beginning of the day. It can be relieved by taking the weight off of the tendon by sitting down or walking on flat feet. Awareness of the signs and taking action are crucial to effective, swift treatment. Here are the most common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis.

Morning Pain

Achilles tendonitis is usually more intense during the morning and is typically accompanied by swelling and stiffness. In addition, the abrupt pressure on your tendon after you rise from bed causes pain to increase.

Heel Pain

Incontinuing discomfort in the heel is typically caused by tightness. Activities that involve plantar flexion of the foot (pointing toes) or pushing the toes forward may cause pain.

Thickening of the Tendon

A lump in the lower leg's back could be a sign that it is because the Achilles tendon fibers have started breaking them down. They will then expand and then thicken. The thickening is followed by pain and tightness in weight-bearing exercises.

Ruptured Achilles Tendon

Achilles tendonitis could cause a ruptured tendon when symptoms aren't addressed and treatment isn't initiated immediately. Begin immediately with the RICE regimen; using rest, ice with a cold therapy pack, and limiting your physical activity can prevent ruptured tendons. Use the symptoms you experience to ensure your tissue's health and function as well as you can.

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    Achilles tendonitis Treatment

    Treatment for an Achilles tendon injury depends on the severity of the injury. Most people with Achilles tendon injuries can be treated with non-surgical methods, such as:

    • Rest. Avoiding activities that aggravate your Achilles tendon pain can help reduce inflammation and give your tendon time to heal.
    • Ice. Applying ice to your Achilles tendon for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day can help to reduce inflammation and pain.
    • Compression. Wearing a compression bandage or sleeve can help to reduce swelling and pain.
    • Elevation. Raising your leg above the level of your heart when sitting or lying down can help reduce swelling.
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can alleviate pain and inflammation.

    If non-surgical methods are ineffective, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the torn Achilles tendon. Surgery may also be recommended for people with severe Achilles tendon injuries that may not heal properly on their own.

    Preventing Achilles tendonitis

    There are a number of things you can do to prevent Achilles tendon injuries, such as:

    • Warm up before exercise. Warming up helps to prepare your muscles and tendons for activity, which can help to reduce your risk of injury.
    • Stretch regularly. Stretching your calf and ankle muscles can help improve flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.
    • Wear supportive shoes. Wearing supportive shoes can help to reduce stress on your Achilles tendon.
    • Avoid overuse. If you experience pain in your Achilles tendon, stop the activity and rest. Continuing the activity could make the injury worse.

    Achilles Tendonitis Relief

    The treatment for Achilles tendonitis could consist of rest, pain relief, physical therapy, exercise, massage, injections, and surgical procedures if required. The recovery time for Achilles tendonitis depends on observing your symptoms and adhering to your physician's or physical therapist's treatment program. 

    If the symptoms are severe, you should avoid activities that require weight, like exercise or strength training, that can cause further injury or even tear the tendon. In other cases, you need to lower the intensity of your activities for a few weeks as you follow a home workout program specifically tailored to Achilles tendonitis.

    Recovering from Achilles Tendonitis

    To avoid Achilles tendonitis, restoring balance to the lower leg, which includes the foot and ankle muscles, is important. Apply a stretching and a strengthening program to avoid strain and overuse of the tendon.

    Ensure you gradually increase your intensity and speak to your physician immediately if you experience persistent or severe pain.

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