Your Achilles tendon is located at the back of your foot, just above your heel. It connects your heel to the two muscles of your calf and helps your foot push forward every
time you take a step. If the tendon becomes swollen or irritated due to overuse, it can lead to the painful condition called Achilles tendonitis. If Achilles tendonitis goes untreated, it can become
a chronic (ongoing) condition that makes just walking around almost impossible. Achilles tendonitis is a very common running injury. But it can also affect basketball players, dancers, or people who
put a lot of repeated stress on their feet. It can be very painful.
Achilles tendonitis is aggravated by activities that repeatedly stress the tendon, causing inflammation. In some cases even prolonged periods of standing can cause symptoms. In many people who have
developed achilles tendonitis, chronic shortening of the gastroc-soleus muscle complex is the reason that home remedies and anti-inflammatory medications fail. In these instances the muscle itself
becomes shortened and creates a constant stress at the tendon?s attachment. Like a green branch that is slowly bent, eventually it begins to breakdown. Over a prolonged period the tendon becomes
inflamed, and in the worst cases, appears swollen and thickened. In certain circumstances attempts to heal have failed and the body?s inability to heal the tissue results in degenerative changes
known as achilles tendonosis. Anti-inflammatory medication, stretching and ice may only provide temporary relief, because they address the inflammation but not the root cause.
Symptoms of acute achilles tendonitis will be a gradual onset of achilles pain at the back of the ankle, just above the heel bone. This may develop over a period of days. The achilles tendon may be
painful and stiff at the start of exercise and first thing in the morning. As the tendon warms up the pain will go often for it to return later in the day or towards the end of a prolonged training
session. The tendon will be very tender on palpation or pressing in on the achilles tendon or squeezing it from the sides. Chronic achilles tendonitis may follow on from acute achilles tendonitis if
it goes untreated or is not allowed sufficient rest. Chronic achilles tendonitis is a difficult condition to treat, particularly in older athletes who appear to suffer more often.
To confirm the diagnosis and consider what might be causing the problem, it?s important to see your doctor or a physiotherapist. Methods used to make a diagnosis may include, medical history,
including your exercise habits and footwear, physical examination, especially examining for thickness and tenderness of the Achilles tendon, tests that may include an x-ray of the foot, ultrasound
and occasionally blood tests (to test for an inflammatory condition), and an MRI scan of the tendon.
Take a course (5 - 7 days) of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(ibuprofen/voltaren/cataflam/mobic) available from your general practitioner or pharmacist. Apply ice to the Achilles - for 10
minutes every 2 hours, in order to reduce the inflammation. Avoid weight-bearing activities and keep foot elevated where possible. Self-massage - using arnica oil or anti-inflammatory gel. Rub in
semi-circles in all directions away from the knotted tissue, three times a day once the nodule is gone, stretch the calf muscle gently do not start running until you can do heel raises and jumping
exercises without pain return to running gradually full recovery is usually between six to eight weeks.
Chronic Achilles tendon tears can be more complicated to repair. A tendon that has torn and retracted (pulled back) into the leg will scar in the shortened position over time. Restoring normal tendon
length is usually not an issue when surgery is performed within a few weeks of the injury. However, when there has been a delay of months or longer, the treatment can be more complicated. Several
procedures can be used to add length to a chronic Achilles tear. A turndown procedure uses tissue folded down from the top of the calf to add length to the Achilles tendon. Tendon transfers from
other tendons of the ankle can also be performed to help restore function of the Achilles. The results of surgery in a chronic situation are seldom as good as an acute repair. However, in some
patients, these procedures can help restore function of a chronically damaged Achilles.
Wear shoes that fit correctly and support your feet: Replace your running or exercise shoes before the padding or shock absorption wears out. Shock absorption greatly decreases as the treads on the
bottoms or sides of your shoes begin to wear down. You may need running shoes that give your foot more heel or arch support. You may need shoe inserts to keep your foot from rolling inward. Stretch
before you exercise: Always warm up your muscles and stretch gently before you exercise. Do cool down exercises when you are finished. This will loosen your muscles and decrease stress on your
Achilles tendon. Exercise the right way: If your tendinitis is caused by the way that you exercise, ask a trainer, coach, or your caregiver for help. They can teach you ways to train or exercise to
help prevent Achilles tendinitis. Do not run or exercise on uneven or hard surfaces. Instead, run on softer surfaces such as treadmills, rubber tracks, grass, or evenly packed dirt tracks.