Is Your Achilles “killing” you?

March 12, 2010 Posted by Dr.Chang

ACHILLES TENDINITIS is, as implied, an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This tendon is the largest and strongest tendon within the body and it is an extension of the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris muscle (calf muscles) with insertion into the calcaneus (heel bone). Its location gives us the ability to rise on our toes therefore aiding in walking, running and jumping. Without the Achilles tendon, we won’t be able to generate propulsive power while walking or running. There are times when this tendon may undergo infection or trauma and result in inflammation but typically, inflammation problems associated with the Achilles are due to chronic overuse, athletic training error or arthritis.

Commonly seen in overused Achilles tendons:
-Riders/bikers – improper pedaling, seat height or failure to warm up or simply overtraining.
-Baseball- failure to stretch before and after the activity.
-Aerobics- repetitive improper positioning of the heel on the step/bench.
-Basketball – very common overuse Achilles injuries due to constant jumping which places a large amount of stress on the Achilles tendon.
Those with Achilles tendinitis typically present with pain in the heel when mobile, with the area of the Achilles sensitive to touch and the skin swollen and warm. Untreated Achilles tendinitis is commonly predisposed to Achilles tendon rupture so it is in the patient’s best interest to treat the tendinitis quickly.
Along with a physical exam to test for tenderness in the area of the Achilles and pain when on toes, podiatrists use imaging studies like X-rays to reveal arthritis if present, and MRI’s that will show the possible inflammation of the Achilles.
Treatment typically includes:
– Icing
– NSAIDS
– Limiting strenuous activity on the Achilles
– Changing exercise routines to less impactful activities such as swimming
– Rest
– Physical Therapy
– Podiatrists may suggest casting, walking boots, or bracing to prevent movement of the heel and aid in reducing swelling.
If conservative treatment fails, surgery may be required and it usually deems successful. Visit Dr. Murray and Dr. Chang for consult if you suspect Achilles tendinitis.

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