Your Achilles tendon is the springy band of tissue located above your heel at the back of your ankle. This tendon happens to be the largest tendon within your body. Injuring this area of your body isn’t at all uncommon. In fact, injuries can happen not only to athletes but also in everyday life. The following information will outline the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatments of this common yet painful condition:
Types of Achilles Tendon Injuries
The Achilles tendon injury can be mild or moderate. The tendon can be completely ruptured or partially torn in addition to other problematic conditions that can negatively impact this area of your body.
Achilles Tendon Rupture or Tear
A rupture or tear can occur when you overstretch the tendon. It can tear partially or completely. It often occurs to people who play recreational sports, but it can happen to anyone. You might hear a pop sound when the tendon ruptures, which will be followed by immediate pain in the lower leg and back of ankle. It will likely severely limit your mobility.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Rupture:
- Snapping or popping sound at the time of injury (as mentioned above).
- An inability to lift up on your toes.
- An inability to push off or bend the foot downward.
- Pain, sometimes bordering severe, as well as swelling in the heel region.
- Feeling like someone kicked you in the calf.
Causes of Achilles Tendon Rupture:
Tendon ruptures are sometimes caused by an increased amount of stress being put on your Achilles tendon. Some examples of the type of activities that can lead to this type of injury are listed below:
- Stepping into a hole.
- Falling from a height.
- Increasing the intensity of your sport. This is especially true in sports that include jumping.
Common Risk Factors For Achilles Tendon Rupture:
- Obesity: When your body is overweight, it can put more strain on all areas, including your tendons, which can cause them to tear easier.
- Antibiotics: Surprisingly, some antibiotics can increase your risk of a tendon rupture. They include the Fluoroquinolone category of antibiotics, such as Levaquin and Cipro.
- Steroid Injections: In some cases, you might have a steroid injection to reduce inflammation in the ankle joint. Unfortunately, this can weaken the tendons.
- Participating in Sports: As mentioned above, playing sports is a huge risk factor when it comes to Achilles tendon ruptures. Sports that include sudden stops and starts, jumping and running, such as tennis, basketball, and soccer are especially risky.
- Sex: If you are a male, you are five times more likely to rupture your Achilles tendon than a woman.
- Age: The most common age to experience an Achilles tendon rupture is between 30 and 40 years-of-age.
Treatments for Achilles Tendon Rupture:
It’s important to see a doctor such as a podiatrist at Red Mountain Footcare. Of course, your treatment and recovery path will differ from everyone else’s as no two people are exactly alike. It will also depend on the severity of your injury as well as your activity level and age. The following are some common treatments you can expect after rupturing your Achilles tendon:
- Nonsurgical Treatment Options:
- A cast, heel wedge or walking boot to keep the ankle immobile for a few weeks.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Icing the area.
- Using crutches to take weight off the tendon.
- Surgical Treatment Options: If your injury is severe enough or you have ruptured your tendon before, your doctor might recommend surgery. The procedure used to treat this condition includes your doctor making an incision at the back area of the lower leg and then stitching the torn tendon back together. In some instances, if the tendon is damaged badly enough, other tendons will be used to reinforce the Achilles tendon.
- Rehabilitation: After undergoing treatment, you will need to complete physical therapy to slowly strengthen the Achilles tendon and your leg muscles. In most cases, you can return to your previous activity level within four to six months.
This injury occurs when your Achilles tendon becomes inflamed due to overuse. It can become chronic, which is explained below. Achilles tendonitis is extremely common in runners, but can also affect dancers, basketball players, or anyone else who puts a lot of stress on their feet.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis:
- Weakness in the area.
- Cracking or creaking sound when you press or move your Achilles tendon.
- Knots of tissue or swelling in the area.
- Tenderness or stiffness in the heel, which is especially noticeable in the morning. It likely goes away throughout the day.
- Pain when participating in exercise, climbing stairs or walking uphill.
- An ache or mild pain in the lower leg and above the heel when doing anything physical or in the morning.
Treatment for Achilles Tendonitis:
- RICE Method:
- Rest: Don’t exercise, and stay off your foot as much as possible. You might even ask your doctor about a walking boot or crutches.
- Ice: Apply cold compresses or an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the area when you feel pain in the tendon.
- Compress: Use athletic tape or wrap to immobilize and support the tendon and reduce swelling.
- Elevate: raise your foot above your heart level, while lying down. If you can, sleep with your foot elevated to prevent swelling.
- Anti-inflammatory Medication: Take pain relievers like ibuprofen to reduce swelling and pain in the area.
- Stretch: Keep your ligaments flexible and strong to prevent injury and help rehabilitate the area. Your podiatrist should give you some suggestions.
- Orthotics: Try orthotic inserts prescribed by a podiatrist.
Additional Injuries Affecting The Achilles Tendon
Achilles Tendon Chronic Tendinopathy: This is a chronic condition that often occurs when you do not rest enough or recuperate properly after a tendon rupture. It happens when you develop multiple tears that fail to heal.
If you think you have injured your Achilles tendon, contact us at Red Mountain Footcare today. This is not the type of injury you want to ignore as it can become chronic. Therefore, call us today and let us help get you back on your feet.