The Achilles tendon
camera.gif connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It lets you rise up on your toes and push off when you walk or run. The two main problems are, Achilles tendinopathy. This includes one of two
conditions, Tendinitis. This actually means "inflammation of the tendon." But inflammation is rarely the cause of tendon pain. Tendinosis. This refers to tiny tears (microtears) in the tissue in and
around the tendon. These tears are caused by overuse. In most cases, Achilles tendon pain is the result of tendinosis, not tendinitis. Some experts now use the term tendinopathy to include both
inflammation and microtears. But many doctors may still use the term tendinitis to describe a tendon injury. Problems with the Achilles tendon may seem to happen suddenly. But usually they are the
result of many tiny tears in the tendon that have happened over time. Achilles tendinopathy is likely to occur in men older than 30. Most Achilles tendon ruptures occur in people 30 to 50 years old
who are recreational athletes ("weekend warriors"). Ruptures can also happen in older adults.
The causes of Achilles tendonitis all appear to be related to excessive stress being transmitted through the tendon. Weak calf muscles, poor ankle range of motion, and excessive pronation have all
been connected with the development of Achilles problems.The upshot is that all of these factors, plus training volume and so on, result in damage to the tendon. Much like a bungee cord is made up of
tiny strands of rubber aligned together, tendons are comprised of small fiber-like proteins called collagen. Pain in the Achilles tendon is a result of damage to the collagen. Because of this,
treatment options should start with ways to address this.
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis start out slowly, with very little pain, and then grow worse over time. Some of the more common symptoms include mild pain or an ache above the heel and in the lower
leg, especially after running or doing other physical activities, pain that gets worse when walking uphill, climbing stairs, or taking part in intense or prolonged exercise, stiffness and tenderness
in the heel, especially in the morning, that gradually goes away, swelling or hard knots of tissue in the Achilles tendon, a creaking or crackling sound when moving the ankle or pressing on the
Achilles tendon, weakness in the affected leg.
During the physical exam, your doctor will gently press on the affected area to determine the location of pain, tenderness or swelling. He or she will also evaluate the flexibility, alignment, range
of motion and reflexes of your foot and ankle. Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to assess your condition, X-rays. While X-rays can't visualize soft tissues such as tendons,
they may help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Ultrasound. This device uses sound waves to visualize soft tissues like tendons. Ultrasound can also produce real-time images
of the Achilles tendon in motion. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Using radio waves and a very strong magnet, MRI machines can produce very detailed images of the Achilles tendon.
In order to treat achilles tendinitis effectively, it is important to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. Once the true cause is identified, a comprehensive treatment
program can be initiated to reduce inflammation and improve any faulty lower extremity biomechanics. Treatment options may include biomechanical analysis of gait. Splinting/bracing to alleviate the
strain on the tendon. Soft tissue mobilization/manual therapy to decrease inflammation and promote healing of the tendon. Strengthening/flexibility and proprioceptive exercises. Home exercise
program. Modalities for pain and inflammation (i.e. ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, ice). Methods to alter faulty mechanics (i.e taping, orthotics). Education about lifestyle
changes (i.e. proper shoes, activity modification).
Histological and biological studies on tendon healing have made it possible to envisage surgical repair using a percutaneous approach, with the following objectives, a minimal, and not very
aggressive, operation, which is quick and easy and within the capabilities of all surgeons, the shortest hospitalisation period possible, above all, early and effective re-education, providing a
satisfactory result both in terms of solidity and the comfort of the patient. The percutaneous tenosynthesis TENOLIG combines stability, reliability, patient comfort and lower overall social and
professional costs for this type of lesion.
Stretching of the gastrocnemius (keep knee straight) and soleus (keep knee bent) muscles. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, relax slowly. Repeat stretches 2 - 3 times per day. Remember to stretch
well before running strengthening of foot and calf muscles (eg, heel raises) correct shoes, specifically motion-control shoes and orthotics to correct overpronation. Gradual progression of training
programme. Avoid excessive hill training. Incorporate rest into training programme.