You can feel your Achilles tendon beneath the skin on the back of your ankle. It is a fibrous band of tissue that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone (calcaneus),
which allows you to lift your heel off the ground. Most commonly an overuse injury, the term Achilles tendinitis commonly refers to, acute inflammation in the sheath surrounding your tendon, chronic
damage to the tendon itself, called tendinosis, a combination of the two. Achilles tendinitis can range from mild inflammation to, in rare cases, a tendon rupture. One type of tendinitis, called
insertional Achilles tendinitis, can affect the end of the tendon where it attaches to your heel bone. Achilles tendinitis also can be associated with other foot problems, such as painful flat
Achilles tendinitis is usually caused by straining the Achilles tendon through intense activity or a sudden increase in exercise. Individuals who play basketball often develop Achilles tendinitis as
a result of pivoting, jumping, and running. These repetitive movements put pressure on the tendon and can gradually wear it down over time. Increasing the intensity of your workouts may also lead to
the development of Achilles tendinitis. This is commonly seen in long distance runners who do quite a bit of uphill running. Similarly, if you start exercising more frequently you may also develop
the condition due to overuse of the tendon. Not stretching properly before exercise can also make the tendon more prone to injury. Achilles tendinitis is also common in individuals whose feet have a
flattened arch, as this places more stress on the tendon. The condition can also be triggered by arthritis, as joint pain can cause one to compensate by putting more pressure on the Achilles
The onset of the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis tend to be gradual, with symptoms usually developing over a period of several days, or even weeks. Symptoms may include, Pain, this may be mild at
first and may only be noticeable after exercise. Over time the pain may become constant and severe. Stiffness, this is usually relieved by activity. Sluggishness in the leg. Tenderness, particularly
in the morning and most commonly felt just above where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. Swelling.
A doctor examines the patient, checking for pain and swelling along the posterior of the leg. The doctor interviews the patient regarding the onset, history, and description of pain and weakness. The
muscles, tissues, bones, and blood vessels may be evaluated with imaging studies, such as X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.
Massage therapy improves blood flow to the muscles and tissues of the affected area while increasing range of motion and can prevent recurring injury. The healing process can be quickened using
ultrasound heat therapy to improve blood flow to the affected area. Wearing a night brace keeps the leg flexed, preventing stiffening of the tendon, which would impair healing. Stretching exercises
increase flexibility and allow the tendon to heal without shortening, a deformity resulting in chronic pain. Persistent Achilles pain may warrant the use of a cast or walking boot to be worn for 4-6
weeks stabilizing the tendon so it can heal. After removal of the cast or boot, physical therapy will be ordered to increase functionality of the affected limb. To reduce chronic inflammation of the
tendon, corticosteroid injections may be prescribed. It?s important to note that this corticosteroid treatment increases the risk of tendon rupture. Ultrasound imaging may be used by the physician
administering the steroid injection, in order to help visualize the affected area. When all other therapies have failed to or tendon rupture occurs, surgical intervention and repair of the muscles
and tendons is the last treatment option.
In most surgeries, damaged tissue is cleaned out before surgeons make the necessary repairs. However, a new minimally-invasive surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon actually uses the damaged
tissue to help repair the tear. The percutaneous Achilles repair system, or PARS technique, enables surgeons to better repair a torn Achilles tendon through a smaller incision. This procedure was
recently performed at Houston Methodist Hospital to treat an NFL cornerback, getting him back on field for this season.
So what are some of the things you can do to help prevent Achilles Tendinitis? Warm Up properly: A good warm up is essential in getting the body ready for any activity. A well structured warm up will
prepare your heart, lungs, muscles, joints and your mind for strenuous activity. Balancing Exercises, Any activity that challenges your ability to balance, and keep your balance, will help what's
called proprioception, your body's ability to know where its limbs are at any given time. Plyometric Training, Plyometric drills include jumping, skipping, bounding, and hopping type activities.
These explosive types of exercises help to condition and prepare the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower leg and ankle joint. Footwear, Be aware of the importance of good footwear. A good
pair of shoes will help to keep your ankles stable, provide adequate cushioning, and support your foot and lower leg during the running or walking motion. Cool Down properly, Just as important as
warming up, a proper cool down will not only help speed recovery, but gives your body time to make the transition from exercise to rest. Rest, as most cases of Achilles tendinitis are caused by
overuse, rest is probably the single biggest factor in preventing Achilles injury. Avoid over training, get plenty of rest; and prevent Achilles tendinitis.