Your Achilles tendon is located at the
back of your foot, just above your heel. It connects your heel to the two muscles of your calf and helps your foot push forward every time you take a step. If the tendon becomes swollen or irritated
due to overuse, it can lead to the painful condition called Achilles tendonitis. If Achilles tendonitis goes untreated, it can become a chronic (ongoing) condition that makes just walking around
almost impossible. Achilles tendonitis is a very common running injury. But it can also affect basketball players, dancers, or people who put a lot of repeated stress on their feet. It can be very
Short of a trauma, the primary cause of Achilles tendonitis is when the calf muscle is so tight that the heel is unable to come down to the ground placing extreme stress on the Achilles tendon at the
insertion. Keep in mind that the calf muscle is designed to contract up, lifting the heel bone off the ground, propelling you forwards to the front of the foot for push off. When the calf is so tight
that the heel is prevented from coming down on the ground there will be stress on the tendon and the foot will over pronate causing the Achilles tendon to twist, adding to the stress on the
insertion. Improper treatment may lead to a more severe injury, such as a rupture or chronic weakening, which may require surgery.
The pain associated with Achilles tendonitis can come on gradually or be caused by some type of leg or foot trauma. The pain can be a shooting, burning, or a dull ache. You can experience the pain at
either the insertion point on the back of the heel or upwards on the Achilles tendon within a few inches. Swelling is also common along the area with the pain. The onset of discomfort at the
insertion can cause a bump to occur called a Haglund's deformities or Pump bump. This can be inflammation in the bursa sac that surrounds the insertion of the Achilles tendon, scar tissue from
continuous tares of the tendon, or even some calcium buildup. In this situation the wearing of closed back shoes could irritate the bump. In the event of a rupture, which is rare, the foot will not
be able to go through the final stage of push off causing instability. Finally, you may experience discomfort, even cramping in the calf muscle.
To confirm the diagnosis and consider what might be causing the problem, it?s important to see your doctor or a physiotherapist. Methods used to make a diagnosis may include, medical history,
including your exercise habits and footwear, physical examination, especially examining for thickness and tenderness of the Achilles tendon, tests that may include an x-ray of the foot, ultrasound
and occasionally blood tests (to test for an inflammatory condition), and an MRI scan of the tendon.
To help heal your Achille?s Tendinitis, follow the R.I.C.E. Principle including Rest, Ice Compression and Elevation. In addition your physiotherapist will likely recommend specific exercises promote
healing and strengthening of the Achilles tendon and its supporting structures. As well an orthotic that elevates your heel can reduce stress on your Achilles tendon. Reducing inflammation in the
tendon is important too this can often be achieved with oral pills or topical creams. Over-the-counter pain medications or prescription strength such as ibuprofen. However, these drugs can have side
effects, like an increased risk of bleeding ulcers. They should be used only occasionally unless your doctor specifically says otherwise. Topical anti-inflammatory creams made with natural
ingredients designed specifically for feet and legs (eg ZAX?s Original Heelspur Cream ) target the affected areas and provides effective and safe relief. Tendinitis usually responds well to self-care
measures. But if your signs and symptoms are severe or persistent, your doctor might suggest other treatment options including surgery.
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.
Suggestions to reduce your risk of Achilles tendonitis include, incorporate stretching into your warm-up and cool-down routines, maintain an adequate level of fitness for your sport, avoid dramatic
increases in sports training, if you experience pain in your Achilles tendon, rest the area. Trying to ?work through? the pain will only make your injury worse, wear good quality supportive shoes
appropriate to your sport. If there is foot deformity or flattening, obtain orthoses, avoid wearing high heels on a regular basis. Maintaining your foot in a ?tiptoe? position shortens your calf
muscles and reduces the flexibility of your Achilles tendon. An inflexible Achilles tendon is more susceptible to injury, maintain a normal healthy weight.