The term ‘Achilles’ refers to the bone surrounded by group of tissues connecting the muscles of the lower leg to your heel. Any injury to the tendon of Achilles can cause inflammation leading to Achilles tendonitis. It is a common phenomenon that occurs in adults who over use this tendon tissues only for a day or two of the week. There are people who play basketball or any kind of sports only on Sundays or weekends. This can cause swelling of tendon causing intense pain. Often the pain can be managed by self care methods but in severe cases the tendon may get rupture inside requiring surgery.
- Vigorous practice of sports activities like running or jumping can cause injury of Achilles tendon muscles.
- Participating in a marathon race without any practice can cause injury to the soft muscles and tissues that surrounds the tendon.
- Using poorly fitting shoes and footwear and putting extra tension on the foot muscles can cause inflammation of Achilles tendon.
- Using certain antibiotics like ciprofloxacin can affect the tendon muscles leading to easy rupture of tendon.
- Increasing age can also contribute for Achilles tendonitis since the tendon would become weak with age.
- Mild to moderate injury of Achilles tendon can cause stiffness and pain. Often the pain reduces when you start walking but sometimes the pain can increase if you perform any vigorous action involving foot muscles.
- It can cause tenderness and swelling of tendon. Palpitation can be felt on the tendon. There would be intense pain while you move the ankle joint.
- Achilles tendonitis can cause mild pain in the lower leg just above the heel portion after you have completed running or any sports activity.
- Some people can feel intense pain after climbing stairs. Morning stiffness is common with this problem which would improve after you start walking.
Who are at risk?
For reasons unknown, men are more prone to develop Achilles tendonitis than women. Elderly people, people with physical problems in their foot, obese people, people who use ill fitting shoes, people who suddenly take part in any sports events, people with certain medical issues like hypertension or diabetes and prolonged use of antibiotics like fluoroquinone can get Achilles tendonitis. In rare cases the tendon can become weak causing internal rupture leading to severe pain that demands surgical correction.
Any intense pain on the back of your heel area can be Achilles tendonitis. Your doctor will apply little pressure on the area to feel any swelling or tenderness. He may request for X-ray of tendon or imaging tests like CT/MRI scanning to get accurate picture of the tendon.
Mild form of Achilles tendonitis does not require any treatment. Applying hot pack on the area can give relief from pain and swelling. You can get comfort by taking pain killers like Ibuprofen or naproxen for few days. Your doctor may prescribe strong doses of anti-inflammatory agents and pain killers depending on the symptoms. Physiotherapy exercises like stretching can facilitate healing of muscles and give strength to the injured tendon. Using orthotic instruments like wedge or shoe insert can reduce inflammation of the tendon and relieve extra pressure on it.
Surgery is the option if there is rupture of tendon. Rupture/tear of tendon can occur in any age group but is more particular in old age people. Sports personalities who are taking part in football or running events can develop rupture of tendon. Any injury or sudden fall can cause sudden stretching of tendon leading to rupture. Your surgeon will repair/correct the tendon and you need to take complete rest until the injury heals.
Home Remedies :
- For managing mild pain on the tendon or lower foot area you can try any of the following techniques.
- Avoid doing any exercises for few days so that the inflammation completely heals.
- Apply ice pack on the area for few minutes and this can be repeated soon after you complete exercise or sports.
- Wearing compression bandage on your foot can reduce tension.
- Keep the foot well elevated to reduce swelling.
Don’t start vigorous practice on the very first day. Always increase the duration of activity gradually to prevent sudden inflammation of the tendon. Avoid running in rugged terrain and wear shoes that are comfortable to your heels giving extra cushion. Practice stretching exercises regularly to strengthen your calf muscles.