The achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body. The Achilles tendon is a strong band that runs from behind the knee to the back of the heel bone. This thick cord of tissue connects the muscle to the bone in the heel. The Achilles tendon is a common site of injury.
The tendon is repetitively lengthened and shortened with each step taken. Running, jumping and heavy body weights increase the load on the Achilles tendon. Often find greatest incidence of Achilles tendon injury is among middle aged persons who recently take up physical exercise.
Pain in the Achilles tendon is caused by a variety of different reasons but the most common ones are inappropriate footwear and floor and ankle imbalances. Dr. Theall will evaluate your lower leg and foot completely through the use of technologies, such as digital x-rays, ultrasound (which are both done in the office) and sometimes an MRI. Once the causes of Achilles tendon pain are known, the treatments are simple and can quickly provide relief of this condition. Simple things like icing the heel at night, not wearing a flat shoe or flip-flop are early preventative treatments that people can try before visiting the office.
Achilles tendonitis occurs in about 10% of all active runners. Onset can occur at any age, but most often occurs in athletes ie., dancers, gymnasts, basketball players. Increase in age and activity increase the chance for injury. Men older than 30 years are particularly vulnerable due to a decrease in blood flow. Improper fitted shoes, training errors, and biomechanical abnormalities of the foot can all lead to the development of Achilles Tendonitis. Obesity can also lead to an increased incidence for Achilles tendonitis, which is why it is important especially when diabetes is involved, for you to manage your weight and eat a proper diet to maintain a healthy physique.
Treatment includes, but is not limited to; Ice, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, pre workout stretching, Improve quality of workout shoes, Orthotics may be necessary to treat biomechanical troubles,
Loss of weight may be recommended in overweight individuals, Ultrasound therapy, Surgery should be considered last and only if pain persists for more than six months. Under any treatment, recovery usually takes weeks to months before all Achilles tendon pain is alleviated.
Achilles Tendon Rupture
An Achilles tendon rupture or tear is a more severe injury than Achilles tendonitis. This injury frequently happens in sports, particularly basketball. It is a tear caused by over stretching or repeated stress on the tendon, which can be partial or complete. Ruptures or tears are most commonly spontaneous in healthy, young, active individuals during athletic activities in mostly males from the ages 30-50 years. Patients often state they feel a “pop” or like they were “hit with a stick in the leg”, calf to heel area. An injury like this is extremely debilitating and should be seen immediately in order to prevent complications. Frequently we can apply a soft cast and walking boots to improve pain and limit the amount of injury to the Achilles tendon. However, sometimes surgical repair is necessary. If surgery is necessary, it should be done as soon as possible once the injury occurs, so call us immediately.
No matter which problem you have, tendinitis or rupture of the Achilles tendon, physical therapy plays an important part in the healing process and the doctors can prescibe physical therapy to complete your treatment until you are able to get back on you feet. Often doing the proper stretching exercises can help increase the tendency, elasticity and strength in the tendon and muscle so that they function more efficiently.
Call New Jersey podiatrist, Dr. Bruce Theall to schedule an appointment. We often have same-day appointments available at our East Orange office.
For more information, contact our East Orange office at 973-673-FOOT (3668).