Achilles tendinitis is an uncomfortable condition where a person?s large tendon in the back of their ankle becomes irritated and inflamed. It is a very common type of injury, most
often seen in recreational athletes. This makes sense because recreational athletes still play hard at their sports, but don?t have the full knowledge or training that comes with being a professional
to prevent injuries. Achilles tendon pain is not something to be taken lightly, so if you are aware of your own, you should definitely seek some medical advice.
Tight or tired calf muscles, which transfer too much of the force associated with running onto the Achilles tendon. Not stretching the calves properly or a rapid increase in intensity and frequency
of sport training can make calf muscles fatigued. Activities which place a lot of stress on the achilles tendon, such as hill running and sprint training, can also cause Achilles Tendinitis. Runners
who overpronate (roll too far inward on their feet during impact) are most susceptible to Achilles Tendinitis. Runners with flat feet are susceptible to Achilles Tendinitis because flat feet cause a
'wringing out' effect on the achilles tendon during running. High arched feet usually absorb less shock from the impact of running so that shock is transferred to the Achilles tendon. Use of
inappropriate footwear when playing sport or running e.g., sandals, can also put an extra load on the Achilles tendon. Shoes are now available that have been designed for individual sports and
provide cushioning to absorb the shock of impact and support for the foot during forceful movements. Training on hard surfaces e.g., concrete, also increases the risk of Achilles Tendinitis. Landing
heavily or continuously on a hard surface can send a shock through the body which is partly absorbed by the Achilles tendon. A soft surface like grass turf helps to lessen the shock of the impact by
absorbing some of the force of the feet landing heavily on the ground after a jump or during a running motion.
Gradual onset of pain and stiffness over the tendon, which may improve with heat or walking and worsen with strenuous activity. Tenderness of the tendon on palpation. There may also be crepitus and
swelling. Pain on active movement of the ankle joint. Ultrasound or MRI may be necessary to differentiate tendonitis from a partial tendon rupture.
Your physiotherapist or sports doctor can usually confirm the diagnosis of Achilles tendonitis in the clinic. They will base their diagnosis on your history, symptom behaviour and clinical tests.
Achilles tendons will often have a painful and prominent lump within the tendon. Further investigations include US scan or MRI. X-rays are of little use in the diagnosis.
Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are selected on the basis of how long the injury has been present and the degree of damage to the tendon. In the early stage, when there is
sudden (acute) inflammation, one or more of the following options may be recommended. Immobilization. Immobilization may involve the use of a cast or removable walking boot to reduce forces through
the Achilles tendon and promote healing. Ice. To reduce swelling due to inflammation, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area for 20 minutes of each waking hour. Do not put ice
directly against the skin. Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation in the early stage of the
condition. Orthotics. For those with over-pronation or gait abnormalities, custom orthotic devices may be prescribed. Night splints. Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon
during sleep. Physical therapy. Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises, soft-tissue massage/mobilization, gait and running re-education, stretching, and ultrasound therapy.
Surgery should be considered to relieve Achilles tendinitis only if the pain does not improve after 6 months of nonsurgical treatment. The specific type of surgery depends on the location of the
tendinitis and the amount of damage to the tendon. Gastrocnemius recession. This is a surgical lengthening of the calf (gastrocnemius) muscles. Because tight calf muscles place increased stress on
the Achilles tendon, this procedure is useful for patients who still have difficulty flexing their feet, despite consistent stretching. In gastrocnemius recession, one of the two muscles that make up
the calf is lengthened to increase the motion of the ankle. The procedure can be performed with a traditional, open incision or with a smaller incision and an endoscope-an instrument that contains a
small camera. Your doctor will discuss the procedure that best meets your needs. Complication rates for gastrocnemius recession are low, but can include nerve damage. Gastrocnemius recession can be
performed with or without d?bridement, which is removal of damaged tissue. D?bridement and repair (tendon has less than 50% damage). The goal of this operation is to remove the damaged part of the
Achilles tendon. Once the unhealthy portion of the tendon has been removed, the remaining tendon is repaired with sutures, or stitches to complete the repair. In insertional tendinitis, the bone spur
is also removed. Repair of the tendon in these instances may require the use of metal or plastic anchors to help hold the Achilles tendon to the heel bone, where it attaches. After d?bridement and
repair, most patients are allowed to walk in a removable boot or cast within 2 weeks, although this period depends upon the amount of damage to the tendon. D?bridement with tendon transfer (tendon
has greater than 50% damage). In cases where more than 50% of the Achilles tendon is not healthy and requires removal, the remaining portion of the tendon is not strong enough to function alone. To
prevent the remaining tendon from rupturing with activity, an Achilles tendon transfer is performed. The tendon that helps the big toe point down is moved to the heel bone to add strength to the
damaged tendon. Although this sounds severe, the big toe will still be able to move, and most patients will not notice a change in the way they walk or run. Depending on the extent of damage to the
tendon, some patients may not be able to return to competitive sports or running. Recovery. Most patients have good results from surgery. The main factor in surgical recovery is the amount of damage
to the tendon. The greater the amount of tendon involved, the longer the recovery period, and the less likely a patient will be able to return to sports activity. Physical therapy is an important
part of recovery. Many patients require 12 months of rehabilitation before they are pain-free.
You can take measures to reduce your risk of developing Achilles Tendinitis. This includes, Increasing your activity level gradually, choosing your shoes carefully, daily stretching and doing
exercises to strengthen your calf muscles. As well, applying a small amount ZAX?s Original Heelspur Cream onto your Achilles tendon before and after exercise.