What Is An Achilles Tendon
Your Achilles tendon consists of a sturdy band of tissue that joins your calf muscles with your heel bone. The Achilles tendon is also referred to as the calcaneal tendon.
It is both the largest and toughest tendon that is contained in your body, and it is responsible for pulling on your heel whenever your calf muscles flex. The Achilles tendon is involved in virtually every activity that you participate in, such as walking, running, jumping, and standing on your toes. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) has also stated that this tendon can withstand over 1,000 pounds of force.
Unfortunately, even though your Achilles tendon retains great strength, there are certain movements that can result in an injury.
Causes Of injuries
Achilles tendon injuries usually develop as the result of speeding up or slowing down rapidly, or from movement that involves pivoting. These actions often occur during sports or recreational activities such as running, gymnastics, dancing, football, baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball, and tennis.
Injuries Of The Achilles Tendon
There are multiple issues that can occur with your Achilles tendon. These include:
Achilles tendon tear – even though some tears can be small in nature, the size of other tears can be large. Regardless of the size, tendon tears can cause pain, swelling, and limited movement. In some cases an Achilles tendon tear emerges suddenly while you are involved in an activity. However, in other cases, it develops over a time.
Achilles tendon rupture – if you hear a popping sound which is followed by swelling and pain in your lower leg, you may have encountered a rupture of your Achilles tendon. The treatment for this condition often involves surgery or the process of remaining immobilized for a period of time.
Achilles tendinosis is caused by a thickening of the tendon. However, this does not involve an inflammation. Instead, this emerges due to continual use or as the result of the aging process.
Achilles Bursitis can be experienced if there is an irritation of the bursa – which is a sac of fluid that safeguards the Achilles tendon at your heel. If this transpires, it will result in pain at the back of the heel.
Achilles tendinitis occurs frequently while patients are involved in activities such as running or walking. The repetitive motion can eventually create an inflammation of the tendon which results in pain and stiffness at the back of the heel.
Factors That Increase The Risk Of Injuries
There is a collection of factors that can raise the risk of experiencing an issue with your Achilles tendon. They also vary depending upon the specific type of Achilles injury.
Tendonitis can ensue from the aging process, wearing improper shoes, a flat arch in your foot, and certain medications. Excessive walking, running or jumping can increase the risk of developing bursitis.
Factors that raise the risk of an Achilles tendon rupture include aging, being overweight, and the repeated use of steroid injections. Involvement in sports and recreational activities will make anyone more susceptible to an Achilles tendon injury, while these issues are also more frequent in men than women.
Treatments For Achilles Tendon Injuries
If you hear a popping or snapping sound at the time that an injury occurs, then you should seek medical attention immediately.
It is also recommended that you visit a doctor if you experience pain that is impacting your normal daily activities.
When you visit a physician, he or she will ask a series of questions that are designed to determine how your issue occurred and the specific nature of any injury. Your doctor may also opt to use x-rays or MRIs before making a final diagnosis.
The treatment plan for any Achilles tendon issue will always be predicated on the specifics of your situation. This includes what occurred, the circumstances surrounding it, and the severity of the injury.
In many cases, tendonitis can heal through the use of rest, ice, compression with a sports bandage, and maintaining elevation with your leg.
Your physician might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and Naproxen.
If bursitis is the condition that you are contending with your doctor might advise the use of heat in rotation with ice.
An Achilles tendon injury very likely will involve the modification of your normal activities. However, that does not eliminate physical therapy as an option. Stretching, and certain exercises can prove to be beneficial for Achilles tendon problems.
Your physician may recommend the use of a walking boot or cast in order to keep your ankle immobilized.
In certain situations, surgery will be the best form of treatment. This will allow the orthopedic surgeon to reattach a ruptured Achilles tendon.
At Orthopedic Associates We Are Here To Help
If you have any questions or concerns about your Achilles tendon, the experienced and knowledgeable staff at Orthopedic Associates is ready to assist you. We are dedicated to making sure that you can return to pain-free participation in the activities and lifestyle that you prefer.
That is why Orthopedic Associates offers a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical sports therapy, and state-of-the-art-technology including our digital imaging and open MRI, and an on-site surgical center for more patient convenience.
Our board-certified doctors have been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years. This includes our ankle doctor specialists Aaron D. Schrayer, M.D. and Michael J. Willenborg, M.D., who can provide you with their expertise in personalized care and treatment for a vast range of conditions that can develop with the ankle.
Our specialists at Orthopedic Associates treat a wide range of ankle conditions, including:
- Accessory Navicular
- Achilles Tendon Injuries
- Ankle Sprains
- Charcot’s Neuroarthropathy (CN)
- Chronic Lateral Ankle Pain
- Clubfoot (Talipes Equinovarus)
- Fracture of the Talus
- Haglund’s Deformity (Retrocalcaneal Bursitis)
- High Ankle Sprain (Syndesmosis Ligament Injury)
- Navicular Stress Fracture
- Osteochondral Injuries of the Talus
- Peroneal Tendon Tears
- Pilon Fractures
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Ankle
- Stress Fractures of the Ankle
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (Posterior Tibial Neuralgia)
- Tibial Fractures
Our orthopedics are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the ankle including:
- Achilles Tendon Lengthening
- Ankle Fracture/Fusion
- Ankle Replacement
- Arthroscopic Articular Cartilage Repair (Ankle)
- Arthroscopy of the Ankle
- Cartilage Repair
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
- Debridement of the Achilles Tendon
- Fixation for Ankle Syndesmosis
- Lateral Ankle Ligament Reconstruction
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
- Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
- Radiofrequency Treatment for Achilles Tendinosis
- Resection of Haglund’s Deformity
- Surgery for Achilles Tendon Rupture
- Talar Fracture Fixation (Open Reduction and Internal Fixation)
- Tibiotalocalcaneal Fusion (with Intramedullary Rod)
- Tendon Transfer/Repair
- Total Ankle Joint Replacement