- Inflammation of the Achilles tendon most often occurs with excessive stress placed on the tendon too quickly. This can happen when someone is not properly conditioned
for the chosen activity or when a person tries to push herself too hard too soon.
For people who play sports that require a lot of sudden stop and go running or jumping, proper conditioning is the key to preventing Achilles tendinitis. Calf muscles need to be both strong and flexible to endure these types of activities. If the calf muscle is not well-conditioned for these types of activities then tiny tears in the Achilles tendon will occur which lead to inflammation. Inflammation is also occasionally caused by sudden trauma or infection.
- The symptoms of Achilles tendinitis will be more mild at first and progressively become more noticeable. They are also effected largely by movement of the ankle.
Typical symptoms include aches, tenderness and swelling just above the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon is located. Many people experience more noticeable aches and pains while walking.
It is also common to experience stiffness when the joint has not been in use for long periods of time, at night for example. This stiffness will go away with increased mobility. Some people also notice that they hear a creak or crack when the tendon is touched or moved.
- Achilles tendinitis can cause two additional complications that are much more serious than the tendinitis itself.
The first of these complications is called Achilles tendinosis. This is a condition where the tendon becomes weak and fibrous due to loss of organized structure.
The second concern with Achilles tendinitis is that if stress is continually placed on the effected tendon it could rupture. A tendon rupture, or complete tear, is extremely painful and requires surgery to repair.
Both of these complications can be avoided by proper care for the injury.
- The majority of tendinitis cases can be treated at home without further medical care.
The acronym RICE is used to remember the steps in caring for tendinitis. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevate.
Rest in this case means to avoid activities that place stress on the Achilles tendon. This does not mean to completely immobilize the ankle joint. In fact, low impact activity, such as bicycle riding, are good for the joint.
Icing should be done for about 20 minutes at a time, several times a day for several days.
The compression part of the acronym means that you need to use a compressive bandage. This can be either a wrap, or an elastic bandage.
Elevation is most important at night. To achieve proper elevation it must be higher than your heart. The easiest way to do this at night is to place the ankle on a pillow.
- If the tendinitis gets worse or does not heal within one to two weeks, it is time to seek professional assistance. Doctors use a variety of tools to aid a case of
Achilles tendinitis including orthotic devises, physical therapy and surgery.
Orthotic devises are those that help reposition the heel and place it in optimal position for healing. These devices are the most common method used by doctors for Achilles tendinitis.
Surgery is rarely used. It is reserved for the most severe cases and cases that do not respond to other treatments. The surgery involves removing inflamed tissue from around the tendon, and recovery takes several weeks
Achilles Tendinitis Injuries
Achilles tendinitis, or inflammation of the Achilles tendon, is an uncomfortable and often painful condition.
The inflammation can be caused by a number of activities that rely heavily on the calf muscle, but is generally easy to treat. When treated properly the condition rarely becomes serious, but prompt and proper treatment are essential. If left uncared for, the condition does have potential to cause further complications.