If you touch the back of your ankle you will feel a tendon tissue running from the heel up to the lower calf of the lower leg. This is known as the Achilles tendon and helps keep the calf muscle attached to the heel. The Achilles tendon needs to extend and flex in order to help you walk, jump, or run. There is a lot of daily strain on the Achilles because of various movement types endured throughout the day. When the Achilles is overused it can easily cause discomfort and turn into tendonitis.
How Can The Achilles Become Injured
There are several ways the Achilles can become injured. Below are the most common causes:
When the Achilles develops tendonitis, it is usually caused by an acute injury that never fully heals. This can lead to calf and heel pain. Tendonitis could also cause tightening of the tendon, which could then become thick as a result. If it goes untreated, Tendonitis will become worse as time goes by.
Because of constant movement, the Achilles may experience a tear in the fibers. If the tears go unnoticed, then they could lead to a partial or full rupture. When a full rupture happens, there will be a popping sound from the area. This will need to be treated as soon as possible.
Individuals in Jeopardy of Achilles Injury
Experiencing an injury to the Achilles is not limited to a type of individual such as a sports player. In fact, everybody is prone to this type of injury due to the injury being caused by repetitive motion. Typically, the factors leading to injury include the following:
Sports or strenuous activity
No Stretching of the calf muscle prior to playing sports leading to added tension.
Symptoms Associated With an Injury to the Achilles
A few symptoms are typically seen among Achilles injuries involve:
Pain at the Achilles
Swelling in the area
Achilles becomes stiff and sore
Achilles tendon thickens
¨Popping¨ is heard followed by pain
The foot does not become easily flexible
Treatment for Achilles Injury
Achilles Injury treatment will be determined by the extent of injury you experience. With that said, treatment may involve the need for:
Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
Calf strengthening exercises
Decrease weight bearing
Therapy using extracorporeal shockwave. Having a shockwave conducted on the calf will encourage healing to the Achilles. Although shockwaves are not the first choice in treatment, they may be used to determine if surgery is needed.
When an Achilles treatment is not obtained successfully or if a complete rupture has occurred, then Achilles surgery will be warranted. Achilles surgery will be determined by how much damage was caused and where the rupture is located. When Achilles surgery is recommended, the orthopedic surgeon may perform the following types:
Removal of areas of the tendon that are damaged beyond repair, then repairing the tendon that remains by transplanting tendon from another area.
Lengthening of the muscles that make up the calf
Performing debridement to eliminate damage