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What is Achilles tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis arises from various factors, including excessive use of the Achilles tendon, wearing unsupportive shoes, aging, or involvement in certain sports. Symptoms include pain and stiffness around the heel. For diagnosis, doctors typically rely on physical examinations and sometimes imaging tests of the Achilles tendon. Treatment usually begins with rest, physical therapy, and medication. However, severe cases may necessitate surgery on the Achilles tendon.

While both are types of Achilles tendon injuries, Achilles tendonitis is not to be confused with an Achilles tendon rupture. This type of Achilles tendon injury comes with unique characteristics. The symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis include Achilles tendon pain and pain in the heel when walking, pain and stiffness in the foot and ankle and calf muscles in the morning, swelling of the lower leg, and pain with touch along the tendon or in the heel bone. Achilles tendon ruptures occur with sudden increase of stress on the Achilles tendon unlike the repetitive stress that causes Achilles tendinitis. There are different types of Achilles tendinitis, which are based on the part of the tendon that is injured. There’s insertional Achilles Tendinitis and Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis.

Prevention strategies for Achilles tendinitis

You can prevent Achilles tendinitis through proactive health measures.

  • Strengthening the Achilles tendon and surrounding muscles through regular, structured exercise can help lower the risk of damage. The Achilles tendon in particular has to be warmed up before physical activity, so it’s important to include warm-up exercises to avoid sudden stress.
  • A balanced diet not only contributes to overall health but also aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight can put additional pressure on the Achilles tendon, increasing the risk of inflammation and injury.
  • The importance of suitable footwear cannot be understated. Shoes that provide proper arch support and cushioning can greatly reduce strain on the Achilles tendon and pain in the heel bone. For those prone to Achilles tendinitis, using orthotic devices like heel cups or arch supports can provide additional protection for the Achilles tendon.
  • Routine medical checkups and screenings also play a significant role in prevention of developing Achilles Tendinitis. Regular visits to the doctor can help identify early signs of Achilles tendinitis or risk factors that may lead to the condition, enabling early intervention and treatment of the Achilles tendon.

Life with Achilles Tendinitis

Living with Achilles tendinitis can be a daily struggle, but a few tangible strategies can help alleviate the burden. It’s imperative to focus on pain management by employing over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), utilizing heat or cold packs, and engaging in gentle Achilles tendon stretching exercises such as eccentric strengthening. These strategies can help to relieve pain in the affected leg. Barefoot, stand near a wall for balance. Rise onto your toes on both feet, lift the uninjured foot, and slowly lower yourself on the affected foot for over 8 seconds. Repeat.

You can also stretch the Achilles tendon by placing your palms against a wall and the affected foot behind you with a straight knee and flat foot. Move your hips towards the wall, feeling a stretch in the calf muscle.

Don’t overlook the importance of mental health; utilize stress-management techniques and seek professional help if necessary. Online and local support groups can also provide a sense of community and shared understanding.

Research and advances in Achilles Tendinitis Treatment

Exciting advancements in the field of treating Achilles tendinitis offer hope for improved treatment and management. Recent medical breakthroughs have introduced innovative approaches, such as regenerative therapies using stem cells or platelet-rich plasma injections, which show promising results in helping the Achilles tendon heal. Ongoing research and clinical trials continue to explore new treatment modalities, including novel medications and minimally invasive Achilles tendon surgery.

Physiotherapy and exercise science play a pivotal role in optimizing recovery and preventing future Achilles tendon injuries. Evidence-based exercise protocols, tailored rehabilitation programs, and cutting-edge technologies are being developed to enhance outcomes and treat Achilles tendinitis. The future looks promising as scientific advancements pave the way for more effective and personalized approaches to tackle this condition.

Bearing the load

Whether you’re seeking information, treatment options, or guidance on managing the condition about Achilles tendinitis, Dallas is home to Texas Orthopaedic Associates and we’re here to help. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive support and resources for individuals affected by Achilles tendinitis and Achilles tendon issues. Reach out to us today.