The Achilles tendon is the tendon running from the calf muscle down to the heel bone. The calf is made up of two separate muscles that run along the back of the leg, the soleus, and the gastrocnemius. The tendon connects the calf muscle on the back of the leg to the foot which allows the calf muscle to perform its primary action necessary foot flexion, which is an integral part of walking. In turn, the Achilles tendon is a highly important factor of gait and running.
Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendonosis
Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis is an overuse disorder. When there is a sudden spike in the repetitive of activity that uses the tendon it can cause micro-damage to the tendon tissues. When not given enough time to repair itself the ongoing stresses continue to damage the tendon fibers and lead to the development altered damaged tissues which results in continued pain and is ultimately how Achilles tendonitis is developed.
There are several groups of people who are more prone to Achilles tendonitis. Athletes, laborers, and "weekend warriors" are at a higher risk of developing Achilles tendonitis because of the excess stress they may be putting on the tendon. Weekend warriors especially are prone because these may be the people who are less regularly conditioned and participate in tedious activities only occasionally. People with an excessively flat arch may also be highly prone to Achilles tendonitis because they demand greater pressure to be put on the tendon when walking.
• Pain - you may experience tenderness, soreness, stiffness, or aching. This can occur at any point along the tendon.
• Tenderness - or even intense pain may occur when pressure is applied to the tendon from the side or it is squeezed.
• Swelling - if the disorder has progressed to tendonosis the tendon will begin to degenerate and may become enlarged and develop nodules where the tissue is damaged
Diagnosis requires assessment by a physician and evaluation of certain aspects such as range of motion and condition of the tendon. An x-ray may be necessary for evaluating a more precise measure of how badly the tendon may be damaged.
Treatment may vary greatly depending on how long the condition has been present and the extent of the tissue damage.
• Immobilization - may require the use of a cast or boot to reduce force on the tendon and promote healing
• Ice - 20 minute of ice under a thin towel can reduce swelling from inflammation
• Oral Medications - NSAIDs including ibuprofen may help in reducing pain during an early stage of tendonitis
• Orthotics - would be necessary in the case of gait issues or over pronation
• Night Splints - can help stretch the tendon during sleep.
• Physical Therapy - includes stretches, strength training, massages, gait and running re-education, and ultrasound therapy