25 Mar Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis in Phoenix and Scottsdale
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human anatomy. It functions to connect your calf (lower leg) muscles to the heel bone and helps with movements like walking, running and jumping. Although it is a very strong and tough structure that can withstand many activities, it is prone to inflammation (tendinitis) and is caused by repetitive activities, overuse and degeneration. Achilles tendinitis is common and is more common in patients who are active in running, walking and sports.
There are two types of Achilles tendinitis:
- Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis – This occurs when the middle part of the tendon starts to break down due to tiny tears (degeneration) leading to swelling and thickening of the tendon. This type of tendinitis usually affects younger patients who are active.
- Insertional Achilles tendinitis – This type of Achilles tendinitis affects the lower part of the heel, where the tendon attaches itself to the heel bone. It can affect patients of all ages regardless of activity levels.
In both types of Achilles tendinitis, the tendon may harden and bone spurs (bony growth) may form for those with insertional Achilles tendinitis.
Achilles tendinitis does not usually occur with any other injuries but is due to overuse and repetitive wear to the tendon. This occurs when patients push their bodies too much. Achilles tendinitis can occur when there is a sudden increase in the levels of activity and patients are recommended to gradually increase their activity level to give their body time to adjust to the new levels of activity. It can also occur when calf muscles are tight. This can be prevented by doing proper stretching and warm ups before starting exercises. Bone spurs (bony overgrowth in the heel) can also cause Achilles tendinitis as it can rub against the tendon causing irritation, inflammation and pain.
Patients with Achilles tendinitis usually present with pain and stiffness along the region of the Achilles tendon (along the back and bottom of the heel), thickening of the tendon, and swelling that is constantly present and may increase with activity. The pain is also aggravated with activity or pain may be severe after exercise.
The diagnosis of Achilles tendinitis is mainly achieved with the help of the patient’s history and examination of the patient. The examination of the patient usually reveals swelling, thickening, and localized tenderness at the back of the heel. The movement of the ankle may also be affected. Other tests include the use of X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to provide a clearer picture on the internal structures and to rule out other causes of heel pain.
A general measure that can be used for pain relief is resting (activity restriction) and the use of ice packs. Other non-surgical treatment includes oral medication for pain relief, physical therapy and rehabilitation, braces and steroid injections. Regenerative medicine injections include PRP therapy and/or stem cell injections. Often times, this is sufficient to help patients avoid the need for achilles surgery.
Surgery is recommended for patients that has no improvement after 6 months of conservative treatment or if there is complete rupture of the Achilles tendon. The Phoenix and Scottsdale podiatrists at Oasis Foot and Ankle offer comprehensive treatment for achilles tendinitis.
This includes options for bracing, medications and injections. Also, the expert foot and ankle specialists offer minimally invasive surgical options for achilles tendinitis that provides relief and gets patients back to activity quickly. Most insurance is accepted at Oasis, with appointments readily available. Call us today!