ACHILLES TENDON PROBLEMS
The Achilles tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that acts as a connector from the heel of the foot to the calf muscles. The Achilles tendon contracts and stretches each time you take a step and is subject to your entire body weight. Problems and injuries can occur to your Achilles tendon with overuse, poor shoes and improper stretching.
Most Achilles tendon problems are due to overusing it or increasing the load it has to carry too quickly. For example, a runner may
increase his miles from 4 to 12 miles, not giving enough time for the tendon to strengthen and adjust to the increase. Or, problems can occur when you only exercise or play a sport one day a week
and put too much strain on the tendon suddenly.
Sometimes Achilles problems are caused when an athlete does not have the proper shoes to support the ankle area. Other reasons for Achilles tendonitis is poor shoes and or insoles, tight calves, excessive uphill running, high heeled shoes at work shortening the tendon, not stretching before and after a workout, feet that roll inward during exercise (over-pronation) and shoes that don't correct the pronation.
Achilles problems can be broken down into two categories; Achilles tendonitis and Achilles tendonosis. Achilles tendonosis is the beginning of the problem, where the tendon starts to swell and cause pain. If you do not make some adjustments in your shoes or your exercise routine the tendon will start to get tears and this is called Achilles tendonitis. If you continue to overuse the tendon, without letting it heal, you may end up with a ruptured tendon where surgery is needed to reattach it.
Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are pain, stiffness, or tenderness anywhere in the heel and Achilles area. The pain is most noticeable when
you wake up after resting all night. Pressing on the tendon sometimes causes extreme pain. You may notice a change in the range of motion of the tendon, in other words, you may not be able to
lift up on your toes as much as before.
See your doctor for a diagnosis on your condition. He may order an X-ray or MRI to see the extent of the damage.
Treatment for tendonitis includes rest. Stopping all sports for a time will allow the tendon to begin to heal. Ice the area for 20 minutes once every hour. Take ibuprofen or an anti-inflammatory medication the first week of recovery. Your doctor may send you to physical therapy.
Make sure you have proper fitting shoes and good insoles to keep Achilles problems from occurring. Replace your shoes every 3 months if you are an athlete. Try to exercise moderately at least 3 times a week to keep the tendon flexible. Stretch gently, before and after, each time you exercise, or play a sport. Gradually increase your miles, if you are a runner.