tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. It is the ?cord? in the back of the leg that inserts into the back of the heel. The Achilles tendon got its name, according to Greek
legend, when the Greek warrior, Achilles, was dipped into the River Styx by Thetis, his mother. This rendered him invincible with the exception of his unsubmerged heel. Unfortunately, he went on to
get mortally wounded during the siege of Troy when he was struck in that heel by an arrow. Achilles tendinitis is inflammation and partial tearing of the Achilles tendon. It can occur with overuse of
the tendon such as when starting or increasing the intensity of an exercise program or performing impact loading activities that include a lot of running and/or jumping.
A lot of stress on the feet is the cause of Achilles tendinitis. It is a common athletic injury. Things that can cause tendinitis include, pushing your body too fast and too soon, sudden increase in
activity, sports that cause you to quickly start and stop, poor fitting shoes, bad footwear, severe injury to the Achilles tendon, running or exercising on uneven ground, running uphill, tight calf
muscles, bone spur (extra bone growth in heel that rubs the tendon and causes pain), flat arches, feet that roll in (overpronation), and weak calf muscles, not warming up before exercising.
Paratenonitis presents in younger people. Symptoms start gradually and spontaneously. Aching and burning pain is noted especially with morning activity. It may improve slightly with initial activity,
but becomes worse with further activity. It is aggravated by exercise. Over time less exercise is required to cause the pain. The Achilles tendon is often enlarged, warm and tender approximately 1 to
4 inches above its heel insertion. Sometimes friction is noted with gentle palpation of the tendon during ankle motion. Tendinosis presents similarly but typically in middle-aged people. If severe
pain and limited walking ability are present, it may indicate a partial tear of the tendon.
X-rays are usually normal in patients with Achilles tendonitis, but are performed to evaluate for other possible conditions. Occasionally, an MRI is needed to evaluate a patient for tears within the
tendon. If there is a thought of surgical treatment an MRI may be helpful for preoperative evaluation and planning.
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.
Achilles tendon repair surgery is often used to repair a ruptured or torn Achilles tendon, the strong fibrous cord that connects the two large muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone.
These muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) create the power needed to push off with your foot or rise up on your toes. Achilles tendon ruptures are quite common. Most happen during recreational
activities that require sudden bursts of muscle power in the legs. Often a torn Achilles tendon can be diagnosed with a physical examination. If swelling is present, the orthopaedist may delay the
Achilles tendon surgery until it subsides.
To lower your risk of Achilles tendonitis, stretch your calf muscles. Stretching at the beginning of each day will improve your agility and make you less prone to injury. You should also try to
stretch both before and after workouts. To stretch your Achilles, stand with a straight leg, and lean forward as you keep your heel on the ground. If this is painful, be sure to check with a doctor.
It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Whenever you begin a new fitness regimen, it is a good idea to set incremental goals. Gradually intensifying
your physical activity is less likely to cause injury. Limiting sudden movements that jolt the heels and calves also helps to reduce the risk of Achilles tendonitis. Try combining both high- and
low-impact exercises in your workouts to reduce stress on the tendon. For example, playing basketball can be combined with swimming. It doesn?t matter if you?re walking, running, or just hanging out.
To decrease pressure on your calves and Achilles tendon, it?s important to always wear the right shoes. That means choosing shoes with proper cushioning and arch support. If you?ve worn a pair of
shoes for a long time, consider replacing them or using arch supports. Some women feel pain in the Achilles tendon when switching from high heels to flats. Daily wearing of high heels can both
tighten and shorten the Achilles tendon. Wearing flats causes additional bending in the foot. This can be painful for the high-heel wearer who is not accustomed to the resulting flexion. One
effective strategy is to reduce the heel size of shoes gradually. This allows the tendon to slowly stretch and increase its range of motion.