Understanding Achilles Tendonitis and Its Treatment Options
Being physically active is crucial for maintaining good health, physical fitness, and preventing chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. However, both professional and amateur athletes (and weekend warriors) who have tendon injuries may experience excruciating pain that makes them less active. Achilles tendonitis is one of the more prevalent disorders affecting tendons in our society today, and the latest data shows it is becoming more common.
Acilles Tendonitis: What is it?
Tendons transfer forces from muscles to bone so that we can move. They are composed of well organised, perfectly aligned collagen fibres, which give them their extraordinary strength. In actuality, when jogging, the Achilles tendon can carry up to 12 times its own weight. The term “tendinosis” (sometimes known as “tendinopathy”) refers to deteriorating changes in the tendon structure.
Why Does Achilles Tendonitis Occur?
Running or other sports that require a lot of running frequently result in Achilles tendonitis because the tendon is subjected to increasing loads. This is due to the fact that the Achilles tendon joins the calf muscles to the heel bone to enable the push off necessary for running. The tendon’s midsection is where the Achilles tendonitis usually manifests, however it can also damage the area where the tendon attaches to the bone.
The majority of the time, tendons react well to consistent loading (i.e., the length and intensity of running), but they detest sudden shifts in load. As a result, the tendon structure becomes disorganised and ineffective because it is unable to support the increasing load. For instance, a person who hasn’t run in three months decides to run 30 km per week.
Age, weak calf muscles, ankle instability, and flat feet are additional risk factors for the development of Achilles tendinopathy.
Achilles Tendonitis symptoms
Achilles tendonitis is characterised by:
- Pain when the tendon is loaded, such as during running
- Morning stiffness in the tendon, which usually goes away as the tendon warms up;
- Achilles tendon swelling; and
- Reduced strength or power because of the pain.
Achilles tendonitis treatment
Tendons prefer to be consistently loaded within their limits. Therefore, appropriate loading exercises serve as the cornerstone of treatment for Achilles tendinopathy.
As overload is frequently the problem, this frequently entails initially limiting activity and gradually increasing this capacity over the ensuing weeks. Anti-inflammatory drugs and ice are other early-stage adjuncts, however they only offer temporary relief.
The Achilles tendon can then be helped by adding calf-strengthening workouts afterwards. Correction of biomechanics may also be necessary in the case of someone who has persistent ankle instability, as the right footwear can help to unload the tendon and reduce discomfort.
However, it should be remembered that even with the best treatments, this is a condition that can take months to completely treat. The safe road back to strong Acilles tendons should be a patient and planned one.
For a precise diagnosis, it’s important to contact a podiatrist because symptoms of other diseases like bursitis or nerve entrapment can resemble those of Achilles tendinopathy. Additionally, a podiatrist can offer the right exercises and tools, such orthotics, to assist manage the issue.
It’s crucial to seek professional assistance if you have Achilles tendonitis or any other foot or ankle ailment. Our team of professionals at Bellevue Podiatry is committed to you the best treatment for all of your foot and ankle health issues.