What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is a medical condition in which there is irritation of the large tendon in back of ankle as well as inflammation. It is a very frequent injury that usually occurs in people involved with recreational sports. Overuse of Achilles tendon causes inflammation leading to pain and development of swelling. Achilles tendinitis is different from one more common condition of the Achilles tendon termed as Achilles tendinosis. Individuals with tendinosis of the Achilles tendon tend to have chronic swelling and discomfort due to degenerative small tears in the tendon.
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis is usually caused as a result of overuse of the affected extremity and is frequent in those sportsmen who train in suboptimal conditions.
The Most Common Causes of Achilles Tendinitis Are The Following:
- Flexibility is not proper.
- Other factors associated with Achilles tendinitis may be changes in shoe wear or alteration in exercise schedule. Often at times marathon runners suffer from this condition when they try to increase their distance or increase their training hours.
- Due to aging, tendons start to lose their flexibility and become tight and are vulnerable to injuries. Therefore, the middle-aged sportsmen are more prone to this sort of injury.
Etiology of Achilles Tendinitis
These injuries take a lot of time to heal as there is impaired blood supply. The tendon gets its nutrition from tendon sheaths. In case of an injury to tendon, cells from adjoining structures move into the tendon to help in repair. Some of these cells are from the blood vessels that get into the tendon to promote direct blood flow and facilitate healing. Along with blood vessels there are nerve fibers. Some researchers are of the belief that these nerve fibers are responsible for pain and so they inject local anesthesia near the vessels, which in turn reduces the pain tremendously.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
The main problem with Achilles tendinitis is pain at the back of heel. The pain is most noted in the area a couple of centimeters above at the place where tendon joins the heel. Patients with this condition experience substantial pain after a relative period of inactivity. Hence, the people with this condition have pain when they first get up in morning time or when they stand up following sitting for some time. Pain may also be experienced when doing activities like running etc.
Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis
- Treatments include application of ice, cold compressions, use of heel pads to cut down the strain on tendon, and exercising to make the tendon strong.
- Use of light compression around the ankles by use of elastic bandages has been found to be beneficial. Using it at night when sleeping can reduce stiffness in the morning when the person first gets up.
- Too much compression can impact the healing process by hampering circulation.
- If left untreated, this can cause tear of the Achilles tendon.
- Other treatments for this condition are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, manual therapy technique, rehab program, and in some cases use of cast.
- Steroids are sometimes used, but it needs to be done after a lot of consideration as it increases the chances of tendon tear.