Achilles tendonitis, or Achilles tendinopathy, is an injury or inflammation of the Achilles tendon, a band of tissue that runs down the back of your lower leg to the heel. This can cause pain, stiffness and sometimes swelling in the back of the ankle. These symptoms may come on quickly and leave you unable to exercise for months, and is especially common amongst people who participate in activities that involve running and jumping.
Sudden pain in your heel or calf, which quickly becomes swollen, bruised and sore, and this may mean you’ve torn the tendon. You may actually hear it snap. This is called an Achilles tendon rupture. You should get urgent medical attention if you this has happened.
If left untreated, Achilles tendonitis will get worse over time. It is often caused by over use of the Achilles tendon and small tears can start to develop. In time and without treatment, these tears do not heal and make the tendon much weaker.
Age can often be a factor. It’s very come in older adults to have Achilles tendon issues as it becomes less flexible and unable to cope with stresses and strains. There are however other factors that can cause the condition:
The way that your feet work and the way that you walk will make a difference too. Wearing the wrong shoes is also bad news. Make sure they fit properly and support the feet correctly and allow you to undertake your activities comfortably. High heels are bad news for suffers of Achilles tendonitis.
You may have ‘flat feet’ with arches lower than they should be. These can make your whole foot roll inwards when you walk or run. This is called over-pronation and can contribute to Achilles tendinopathy. High-arched feet can cause problems as well so it is worth getting your feet assessed if you think this might be a contributing factor.
For people taking part in sporting activities such as running, jumping, dancing, tennis or basketball, extra problems can be caused by:
A qualified medical professional will be able to advise you on the correct forms of treatment. In extreme cases this can result in surgery. In many cause however a physical therapies are appropriate. There are some self-help activities that will help.
Most import is to rest the tendon. Modify your activities and gently stretch your lower leg. Ice with ease the pain and reduce any swelling. Make sure you elevate the leg whilst you do this and do not apply ice directly to the skin. Use a proper ice pack or wrap the ice in a towel.
Whatever exercise you do, the best advice is to build up slowly. Gradually increase the intensity and the length of time you spend being active. It’s good to warm up your muscles before you exercise and cool them down after you’ve finished. Toe curls and heel raises stretch your feet, calves and Achilles tendons.