We depend on our legs for a ton of things — we use them to move things around, exercise, build, and even when having fun. Sometimes, all this stress can be too much for some parts of the body. When you push your body too hard, it gets inflamed to send you a message to take it slow for a while. One of the parts of the legs that get inflamed is the Achilles tendon. When this happens, we call it Achilles tendonitis.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
Tendonitis is the medical term for the inflammation of a tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body. You use this tendon to walk, run, jump, or stand on your toes. It is located in your leg connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone on each leg.
Your body gets inflamed as a response to injury or more stress than it can handle. Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon due to injury or stress.
There are two types of Achilles Tendonitis:
Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis typically involves the middle portion of the tendon. The most common symptom for this type of Achilles tendonitis is one bulbous inflammation on the affected leg. It is usually located about five centimeters from the insertion on the heel bone.
Insertional Achilles tendonitis typically occurs at the attachment to the heel bone on the back of your ankle. Both types will present with pain and swelling around the ankle and Achilles heel.
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?
The repetitive and intense strain on the Achilles tendon is the most common cause of Achilles tendinitis. Another cause of Achilles tendonitis is injury from accidents. These accidents happen more as you get older, so older people get Achilles tendonitis at a higher rate.
Risk factors for Achilles Tendonitis
- Older people are at a higher risk.
- Men get Achilles tendonitis more often than women.
- Physical problems can put you at a higher risk of developing Achilles Tendonitis. For example, being flat-footed puts more strain on your Achilles tendon, making it susceptible to injury or inflammation.
- Certain medications like antibiotics (fluoroquinolones) have been linked to higher Achilles tendonitis rates.
- People with psoriasis or high blood pressure are at higher risk of Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles tendonitis makes the Achilles heel tender and weak, making it vulnerable to a tear. A torn tendon requires surgical intervention and may have more long-term consequences for the patient.
How to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis
If you are exercising, it is important to ease back into the routine and gradually increase the workouts. Try and stretch before and after working out to relax your tendons. If you already have sore tendons and muscles, take a back seat when it comes to heavy lifting. Give your body time to adjust and warm up to strenuous activities.
Achilles Tendonitis FAQ
Is Achilles tendonitis painful?
Yes, Achilles tendonitis is painful. The patient will feel pain along the tendon or back of the heel and ankle. The pain is usually most painful after a long rest or exercise. You may also experience pain in the Achilles tendon after long bouts of motion.
Are there people more prone to Achilles tendonitis?
Anyone can get Achilles tendonitis regardless of age and gender. However, some people are at more risk than others. The condition will develop after an injury or excessive, repetitive stress on the tendon. Common people who get Achilles tendonitis include truck drivers and adults who are just getting back to the gym. People in professions where standing for long periods of time is part of the job, like warehouse workers, are also a risk group.
Do I need medical attention for Achilles tendonitis?
Yes, Achilles tendonitis can cause pain affecting your day-to-day activities and productivity. Self-medicating is not a good idea, so it is important to see a doctor, get diagnosed, and get treated. This is the best course of action for faster healing without complications.
How is Achilles tendonitis treated?
The first thing you want to do when your Achilles tendon starts to hurt is to lie down. Taking weight off the leg will help stop aggravating the tendon. You can use an ice pack to help manage the pain. If you have non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a dose will help relieve inflammation. Stretching and physical therapy by a professional are also great ways to help relax the muscle.
If nothing works, your doctor may suggest a steroid or cortisone rupture. Heel lifts and shock wave therapy also seem to work for some patients. Surgical intervention is the last option if nothing else seems to help.
Does Achilles tendonitis heal?
Your Achilles Tendonitis will completely heal with the proper medical attention and rest. If the tendon is permanently torn, the patient can get a limb or weakness in that leg.