Achilles Tendonitis is a health problem related to the ankle mostly faced by the middle aged recreational athletes. Patient suffering from this health condition often complains of ankle pain especially post exertion, behind the heel area about 2-4 centimetres above where the tendon attaches to the heel. It’s an injury in the ankle.
The problem causes irritation and inflammation in the large tendon located behind the ankle. If allowed to go untreated it can lead to inflammation, swellings and pain in the ankle. Achilles tendonitis should not be confused with a similar sounding ankle related health condition called the Achilles Tendinosis.
As people age, their chances of getting Achilles Tendonitis tends to go up; because with age, muscle movements become rigid, their flexibility reduces; and chances of injury increase. So first cause of Achilles Tendonitis has to do with ageing; the second cause can be attributed to foot motion. Sprinters doing long distance jogging or running; pushing; jumping; wrong footwear; over exerting the ankle in exercising; or over exercising involving ankle; even long and extended periods of rest or lacking in any kind of exertion or activity like first walk in the morning; getting up after sitting for long periods of time etc can lead to pain.
A watershed portion of the tendon; part of the tendon tissue having the mildest blood supply, is what makes tendon all the more susceptible and injury prone. When a patient with pain visits doctor he is usually advised to get an X-ray done which gives the first impression of being normal, however an X ray helps the doctor to assess other underlying conditions. ON occasions doctor also advises an MRI to check out possibilities of tears within the tendon. If the condition is at an advanced stage and doctor is contemplating surgical treatment; in such a case also an MRI comes in handy for planning surgery vis-à-vis evaluating various aspects related with it.
For Achilles tendonitis, prevention is actually the best cure. If the way person walks is wrong and puts to much pressure on ankle it can be rectified either with practice or by surgically removing the defect. Stretching and bending the ankle joint first thing in the morning as an exercise to loosen up the joint for the day is recommended. When symptoms appear it is advised to give rest to ankle to relieve the pain and help the inflammation to subside. If the Achilles tendonitis is too acute then extended period of rest or inactivity also helps. Resorting to using removable walking boot, or a cast, will also help in cooling down the inflamed tissue much faster. Another way to reduce pain and stress on Achilles tendonitis is to use heel wedge inside the shoes while simply walking and moving about through the day or in sports shoes while exercising.
For acute problem patient can apply ice on the painful area several times through the day to get relief because ice will activate the blood flow. But this treatment will not work on chronic cases. Oral medication may also be prescribed by doctors to control inflammation in and around the tendon. Again these too work for acute cases and not chronic cases of Achilles tendonitis. Recently some anti inflammatory applications have also been introduced in the market for inflammatory pain relief. Patient can be advised physical therapy like stretching and strengthening to improve flexibility of the muscles of ankle. Injections have also been introduced but they aren’t much in use because of lack of effectiveness. Surgery is the last resort and is considered when every other kind of medication fails. Through surgery the damaged area of tendon may be separated; the tendon that has stretched may be done away with, or even moving the tendon attachment can be an option.
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