Achilles tendon injuries affect both seasoned athletes and occasional fitness enthusiasts alike. The Achilles tendon, the body's largest tendon, spans from the heel bone to the calf muscles. This strong tendon enables foot extension and toe pointing. Overuse, rapid escalation of physical activity, and inadequate pre-activity stretching can result in a painful inflammation known as Achilles tendonitis. As the activity continues, the injury may worsen and cause partial or total ruptures. Common in various sports such as running, gymnastics, and basketball, symptoms of Achilles tendon injuries include pain along the back of the foot and above the heel. This discomfort intensifies during ankle stretching or toe-standing. Diagnosis involves thorough physical examinations and additional tests such as musculoskeletal ultrasonography, MRI, and radiography. Treatment varies based on severity, ranging from rest, crutches, and cold compresses for mild cases to surgical intervention for severe ruptures. To navigate Achilles tendon injuries effectively, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for a full exam and a correct treatment plan.
Achilles tendon injuries need immediate attention to avoid future complications. If you have any concerns, contact Paul A. Santangelo, DPM of Illinois. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.
What Is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a tendon that connects the lower leg muscles and calf to the heel of the foot. It is the strongest tendon in the human body and is essential for making movement possible. Because this tendon is such an integral part of the body, any injuries to it can create immense difficulties and should immediately be presented to a doctor.
What Are the Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Injury?
There are various types of injuries that can affect the Achilles tendon. The two most common injuries are Achilles tendinitis and ruptures of the tendon.
Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms
- Dull to severe pain
- Increased blood flow to the tendon
- Thickening of the tendon
- Extreme pain and swelling in the foot
- Total immobility
Treatment and Prevention
Achilles tendon injuries are diagnosed by a thorough physical evaluation, which can include an MRI. Treatment involves rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. However, various preventative measures can be taken to avoid these injuries, such as:
- Thorough stretching of the tendon before and after exercise
- Strengthening exercises like calf raises, squats, leg curls, leg extensions, leg raises, lunges, and leg presses