tendon attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is a repetitive strain (overuse) injury involving lower leg muscles and tendons at the point where they attach to the bone,
resulting in pain at the back of the ankle. Chronic overuse can lead to small tears within the tendon causing long-term weakening, making the tendon susceptible to rupture, which could result in a
need for surgery.
Achilles tendinitis usually results from overuse and not a specific injury or trauma. When the body is subject to repetitive stress, the Achilles tendon is more prone to become inflamed. Other
factors may cause Achilles tendinitis, such as, Sudden increase in physical activity, which can be related to distance, speed or hills, without giving yourself adequate time to adjust to the
heightened activity. With running up hills, the Achilles tendon has to stretch more for each stride, which creates rapid fatigue. Inadequate footwear or training surface. High heels may cause a
problem, because the Achilles tendon and calf muscles are shortened. While exercising in flat, athletic shoes, the tendon is then stretched beyond its normal range, putting abnormal strain on the
tendon. Tight calf muscles which gives the foot a decreased range of motion. The strained calf muscles may also put extra strain on the Achilles tendon. Bone spur where the Achilles tendon attaches
to the heel bone, aggravating the tendon and causing pain.
Signs and symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis generally include pain and stiffness along your achilles tendon, especially in the morning. Pain in the back of your heel that gets worse with activity.
Severe pain the day after exercising. Swelling that gets worse with activity. If you feel a pop in the back of your heel or bottom of you calf, you may have ruptured or torn you achilles
To diagnose the condition correctly, your doctor will ask you a few questions about the pain and swelling in your heel. You may be asked to stand on the balls of your feet while your doctor observes
your range of motion and flexibility. The doctor may also touch the area directly. This allows him to pinpoint where the pain and swelling is most severe.
With proper care for the area, the pain in the tendon should lessen over three weeks, but it should be noted that the healing of the area continues and doesn't even peak until at least six weeks
following the initial injury. This is due to scar tissue formation, which initially acts like the glue to bond the tissue back together. Scar tissue will continue to form past six weeks in some cases
and as long as a year in severe cases. After 6 months this condition is considered chronic and much more difficult to treat. The initial approach to treating Achilles tendonitis is to support and
protect the tendons by bracing any areas of the tendon that are being pulled on during use. It is important to loosen up the tendon, lessen the pain, and minimize any inflammation.
Surgery for an acute Achilles tendon tear is seemingly straightforward. The ends of the torn tendon are surgically exposed and sutures are used to tie the ends together. The sutures used to tie
together the torn tendon ends are thick and strong, and are woven into the Achilles both above and below the tear. While the concepts of surgery are straightforward, the execution is more complex.
Care must be taken to ensure the tendon is repaired with the proper tension -- not too tight or too loose. The skin must be taken care of, as excessive handling of the soft tissues can cause severe
problems including infection and skin necrosis. Nerves are located just adjacent to the tendon, and must be protected to prevent nerve injury. If surgery is decided upon, it is usually performed
within days or weeks of the injury. The idea is to perform the repair before scar tissue has formed, which would make the repair more difficult. Some surgeons may recommend delaying surgery a few
days from the initial injury to allow swelling to subside before proceeding with the repair.
If you're just getting started with your training, be sure to stretch after running, and start slowly, increasing your mileage by no more than 10% per week. Strengthen your calf muscles with
exercises such as toe raises. Work low-impact cross-training activities, such as cycling and swimming, into your training.