achilles tendinitis – causes, symptoms, treatment at home & more

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what is achilles tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is a typical overuse injury, where the large tendon running down the back of the lower leg gets irritated and inflamed causing excruciating pain and discomfort in walking or even standing for an extended duration of time.

Achilles tendinitis is a common condition and is mainly found in sprinters and marathon runners who have suddenly increased and also middle aged people, who are engaged in leisure sport activities like tennis or basketball. Achilles tendinitis is also common in women wearing high heel sandals that put a lot of strain on the legs and feet.

Swelling around the affected tendon accompanied with severe pain is a common symptom of Achilles tendinitis. It is also characterised by stiffness of the ankle which usually loosens up a bit with the progress of the day and some exercises specifically designed for such condition.

know achilles tendinitis symptom

The most common Achilles tendinitis symptoms is swelling and pain in the back of the heel and discomfort in walking or standing for long periods. Other symptoms include tight calf muscles, limited mobility and warmth around the affected tendon site.

what causes achilles tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is a typical example of an overuse injury caused by repetitive and intense strain on the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Some of the common causes of Achilles tendinitis are as follows;

  • Not warming up before exercising
  • Improper method of exercise or a sport activity that leads to the straining the calf muscles
  • Playing a sport that involves sudden movement and twists and turns like tennis, basketball, etc that puts a lot of strain on the tendons and calf muscles.
  • Sudden increase in physical activity
  • Wearing bad fitting shoes
  • Wearing high heels for elongated periods also puts a lot of strain on the feet and legs
  • Presence of bone spurs in the back of your heels
  • The Achilles tendons also deteriorate in strength with age

achilles tendinitis risk factors

There are a few factors that have been found to make a person more susceptible to Achilles tendinitis. These risk factors include;

  • Gender – Achilles tendinitis is more common in men than women
  • Age – The Achilles tendon tends to get weaker with age and becomes more prone to damage and injury.
  • Improper shoes – selecting the wrong pair of can also cause great damage to the feet and put a lot of strain on the tendons.
  • Medical conditions – People affected with Psoriasis and/or high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing Achilles tendinitis.

Medications- Some types of medications like fluoroquinolones antibiotics have been found to be associated with higher rates of Achilles tendinitis.

achilles tendinitis diagnosis

The Achilles tendinitis is diagnosed from a physical examination of the tendon, besides that a doctor can ask for any of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis;

  • X – rays
  • MRI scans
  • Ultrasound

achilles tendinitis treatment

Achilles tendinitis can be easily treated at home as the condition responds pretty well to self care treatment like RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and elevation. However, in cases where the symptoms persist for a long time, then the doctor must be seen to find the root of the problem and its effective treatment.

The typical Achilles tendinitis treatment plan includes medications, physical therapy and surgery.

  • Medication – The main medications used in the treatment of Achilles tendinitis are the varied over the counter pain medications to reduce the swelling and pain caused by the condition.
  • Physical therapy – Physical therapy can be given along with pain medications to aid the recovery process. There are specifically designed exercises called ‘eccentric’ strengthening has been found to be helpful in Achilles tendinitis.
  • Orthotic devices – These can be a small shoe insert that elevates the heel to relieve the strain on the tendons thereby reducing the pain.
  • Surgery – This is the last step in the treatment of Achilles tendinitis and is only given in cases where the Achilles tendon doesn’t respond to conservative treatment or in cases of torn Achilles tendon where the doctor needs to operate on the tendons to repair the damage.

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