Achilles Tendinitis (Tendinitis)
The easiest way to understand "Achilles Tendonitis" (or Tendinitis) is that it is the 'inflammation of the Achilles Tendon'. The Achilles Tendon is the longest tendon present in the human body. It connects our calf muscles to our heel bone behind the ankle. As our calf muscles contract, the Achilles Tendon is pulled causing the foot to point down. This also helps us rise on our toes. Achilles pain is characterized by an ache just above the back of our heels. In many cases the individual may also experience tightness in their calves. You may notice that the Achilles Tendon in the affected area is noticeably thick and tender to the touch. You may feel pain while walking and especially when pushing off on your toes.
Achilles Tendonitis - Causes
When there is persistent strain or stress on the Achilles tendons it results in irritation and eventually inflammation. Some severe cases have been reported where the massive strain caused the tendon to rupture! Chronic overuse of this tendon is common in runners and is a frequent cause for changes in it. This leads to thickening and degeneration of the tendon. Also tightness in your calf muscles contributes heavily to Achilles Tendonitis also called Tendinopathy. Our tendons tend to degenerate with old age and this wear and tear over time leads to weakness in the fibers of the tendon.
However, over-pronation has been found to be the most common cause of this condition. Excessive inward foot rolls cause our lower leg to rotate internally. This puts a shearing force on our calf muscles which are connected to the Achilles tendon. Now this is where the Achilles tendon gets over-stretched, which results in inflammation.
Typical Activities That Result In Achilles Tendonitis
Typical Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
- Pain above your heel
- Instant and severe pain in case of ruptures
- Snapping or popping noise in the joint when it happens
Achilles Tendonitis – Treatment
This treatment works to reduce stress on the tendon and also reduce any inflammation. One can relieve the stress or strain by:
- Avoiding activities that aggravate the problem further, such as running or sprinting.
- Putting shoe inserts (orthotics) in your shoes. These help take pressure off your tendon and help them heal faster. In case you have a flat or hyperpronated foot, your physician or podiatrist may suggest long-term use of orthoses.
One can reduce inflammation by:
- Applying icepacks on the affected area for 20 minutes (helpful in acute stages).
- Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (preferably non-steroidal).
- Using restrictive ankle-boot to minimize feet movement. This gives the tendon time to heal and is usually recommended in severe cases (used for about 8 weeks).
- Trying slowly absorbed steroid injections. These are particularly helpful in cases of peri-tendinitis. Consult a specialist doctor before going forward with this procedure.
Specific exercises that gently stretch your calf muscles are also effective in some cases. These show results faster once you have coped up with the acute stage of inflammation. Your doctor or physiotherapist will suggest certain exercises while you are recovering. Remember, recovery will often be slow and will largely depend on the severity of your condition. Make sure to follow all the instructions given by your doctor for the treatment to be effective.
Treatment with Orthotic Insoles
Footlogics Orthotics helps rectify excess pronation. You can greatly reduce the strain on the Achilles tendon by wearing orthotics, giving them a chance to heal. The orthotic will also prevent the situation from worsening further, reducing the risk of tendon rupture.
Footlogics Sports comes highly recommended for sports shoes and Footlogics Plantar Fasciitis is ideal for regular footwear. If you see the problem persisting, visit a physiotherapist or (sports) podiatrist before the condition gets out of hand. What you can do to prevent Achilles Tendonitis or Tendinopathy in addition to using orthotic insoles, is gently stretch your Achilles tendons and calf muscles. Do this every time before taking part in any physical activity. Always make it a point to perform stretching exercises at a slow pace and gently moving into the stretch rather than abruptly getting in position and only to a point where you feel a pull, not pain.