What is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon is the largest and the strongest tendon in the entire body. It attaches to the heel bone and causes the foot to push off when the calf muscles tighten. This tendon is vital for walking, running, and jumping. Traumatic injuries, such as the ones suffered by athletes, to the Achilles tendon are common and can even leave you disabled.
What is this injury?
Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon; therefore Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This inflammation may be localized at the end of the tendon closest to the heel, or it can spread upward to affect the muscles higher up in the calf. Swelling usually occurs and pain is felt when the calf muscles contract. Severe cases have been known to cause pain even when in rest.
How does the injury occur?
Achilles tendon injuries usually occur due to overuse. Some other factors that lead to Achilles tendonitis are improper choice of shoes, inadequate stretching prior to participation in athletic activities, a naturally short Achilles tendon, direct trauma to the tendon itself, training errors, and sometimes heel bone deformity. There is significant evidence that show that people with feet that roll in excess are at greater risk of developing Achilles tendonitis. This increased rotational movement puts additional stress on your tendon which places it at a much higher risk of injury. This results in extra stress on the Achilles tendon which can be easily fixed with custom functional orthotics designed to control this rotational movement, thus making them an important part of any treatment plan for this problem.
Recent studies on Achilles tendonitis recommend a treatment plan to include the following 4 components:
- Immobilization and evaluation for possible tears that may have occurred, stress fractures, and other problems that may occur. We use X-rays, Diagnostic Ultrasound, or MRI’s to evaluate them.
- Treatment of the inflammation with Non-steroidal and/or limited cortisone injection therapy.
- Strengthening of the muscles that make up the Achilles tendon using eccentric exercise & night splints.
- Biomechanical custom orthotics and proper shoe gear.
Achilles tendonitis should never be self-treated because of the potential damage you could cause to the tendon, and ultimately, yourself. At New Jersey Foot & Ankle Centers we are committed to helping you achieve the best long term results, in the fastest amount of time. We are always available should you have further questions: 201-261-9445