The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body connecting the calf muscle to the heel. It is used in various activities such as climbing stairs, jumping, and standing on your tiptoes. Achilles tendinitis is a condition that occurs in the Achilles tendon when the tissues running along the lower legs get inflamed. The condition is generally caused by overstressing the ligament or age-related issues.
- Pain and discomfort along the Achilles tendon, especially in the morning
- Pain in the heel and ankles that worsens with continued activity
- Swelling of the Achilles tendon
- Swelling that worsens through the day with activity
- Bone spur
- Inability to move or flex your foot
Causes And Risk Factors
Achilles tendinitis is typically caused by constant and repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon and is most common among athletes. However certain conditions and activities can also contribute to this condition. Moreover, there can be a number of factors that may increase the risk of suffering from Achilles Tendon.
- Intense workout without a proper warm-up
- A sudden increase in intensity and duration of exercise without giving your body proper time to adjust.
- Wearing ill-fitted and improper shoes
- Having prior conditions such as bone spurs.
- Achilles Tendonitis is a condition mostly occurring in men.
- The chances of developing Achilles Tendonitis increase as you age.
To prevent Achilles tendinitis it is important to avoid straining the calf muscle and the Achilles tendons. Here are some ways to lower your risk of Achilles tendinitis.
- Make sure to perform a proper warm-up and cool down before and after every workout session.
- Slowly increase the intensity of your workout regime
- Keep muscles active through regular exercise
- Rest after intense sports activity involving the legs such as tennis, badminton, football, etc.
- Wear comfortable shoes with cushioned footbeds to minimise the stress on your ankles.
- Avoid wearing high heels and choose flats and running shoes.
Treatment for Achilles tendinitis includes various non-surgical as well as surgical options. If you fail to feel relief after 5-6 months of non-surgical treatment, there are a few different surgical treatments available. In most cases, non-surgical treatment can work to relieve pain in 2-3 weeks and the symptoms may subside in 3-4 months.
Common non-surgical treatments include –
Rest – Complete bed rest is recommended with no activity involving strain on the Achilles tendon.
Ice – Put ice on the affected area for 10-20 minutes.
Compression – Place and hold pressure on Achilles tendon using surgical tape or an ice pack
Elevation – Elevate your foot above your heart to reduce swelling.
Physical therapy includes stimulative exercises to regain full range of motion along with some precautionary measures that include –
- Avoid walking on slippery surfaces and slopes with an incline.
- Avoid walking barefoot and wear flats and running shoes.
Non-surgical methods can definitely reduce swelling and alleviate pain, but if your condition doesn’t improve even after the treatment, then you might need to consult a surgeon. A surgeon may recommend any of the following surgical treatments based on your condition.
Gastrocnemius recession – This method of treatment strengthens and lengthens the muscles of the calf.
Debridement and repair – Debridement treatment involves the removal of hyperkeratotic or thickened skin and callus and stitching together the remaining healthy tendon.
Debridement with tendon transfer – Debridement with tendon transfer is used when the damage to the tendon does not leave enough functional parts of the tendon.
Hydrocision TenJet – Hydrocision is a procedure involving ultrasound techniques to break up scar tissues in the tendons in a non-invasive manner.
Foot injuries can easily exacerbate if proper treatment and rest schedule is not followed and might even require surgical intervention. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or can’t find relief with non-surgical methods and home remedies, book an appointment with Dr Anuj Chawla at our orthopedic clinic in Gurgaon.