A common disorder of the foot is Achilles tendonitis. This condition is worsened over time by chronic inflammation and degeneration of the Achilles tendon. The tendon loses its organized structure and becomes riddled with tears. This causes chronic pain and swelling.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a thickened cord of fibrous tissue that runs along the back of the leg. It connects the leg bone to the heel bone. The main function of this structure is to assist with moving the foot up and down. The Achilles tendon is subject to injury from direct impact or over use from excessive training, and it often begins hurting as a result of shoe pressure.
What causes Achilles tendonitis?
An overuse disorder, Achilles tendonitis is caused by sudden increase in repetitive activities involving the Achilles tendon. This activity puts much stress on the tendon, which leads to micro-injury of the tendon fibers. Due to ongoing tendon stress, the body cannot repair the injured tissues, which alters the tendon structure and results in continuous pain.
Who is at risk for developing Achilles tendonitis?
Athletes are at high risk for Achilles tendonitis. This condition is more common among weekend warriors, who are those less conditions who participate in weekend or infrequent activities. In addition, people who have a flattened arch have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis, as this puts greater pressure on the tendon when walking.
What are the symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis?
The main symptom associated with Achilles tendonitis is pain. The pain is often described as sharp, shooting, aching, and stabling. The pain and tenderness occurs along the tendon’s path, and is worse where the tendon attaches to the heel. Pain is often reported as worse upon arising in the morning, or after a time of rest, and it improves with motion.
How is Achilles tendonitis treated?
The main treatment for Achilles tendonitis involves:
- Immobilization – This involves the use of a cast or removal walking boot, which reduces the force on the Achilles tendon.
- Oral medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to reduce inflammation and pain in the early stages of tendonitis.
- Ice – Swelling occurs due to inflammation, and this is reduced using application of ice for 20-minute intervals.
- Night splinting – A splint worn at night will reduce the pain and inflammation of the Achilles tendon.