Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation
(swelling) of the tendon, which usually occurs as a result of overuse injury. Anyone can have Achilles tendonitis. Athletics involving frequent jumping is the classic cause, but certainly not the
only one. Any activity requiring a constant pushing off the foot, such as running or dancing, may result in swelling of the tendon.
Over-pronation, injury and overstresses of the tendon are some of the most common causes. Risk factors include tight heel cords, poor foot alignment, and recent changes in activities or shoes. During
a normal gait cycle, the upper and lower leg rotate in unison (i.e. internally during pronation and externally during supination). However, when a person over-pronates, the lower leg is locked into
the foot and therefore continues to rotate internally past the end of the contact phase while the femur begins to rotate externally at the beginning of midstance. The Gastrocnemius muscle is attached
to the upper leg and rotates externally while the Soleus muscle is attached to the lower leg and rotates internally during pronation. The resulting counter rotation of the upper and lower leg causes
a shearing force to occur in the Achilles tendon. This counter rotation twists the tendon at its weakest area, namely the Achilles tendon itself, and causes the inflammation. Since the tendon is
avascular, once inflammation sets in, it tends to be chronic.
In most cases, symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, also sometimes called Achilles tendinitis, develop gradually. Pain may be mild at first and worsen with continued activity. Repeated or continued
stress on the Achilles tendon increases inflammation and may cause it to rupture. Partial or complete rupture results in traumatic damage and severe pain, making walking virtually impossible and
requiring a long recovery period. Patients with tendinosis may experience a sensation of fullness in the back of the lower leg or develop a hard knot of tissue (nodule).
A doctor examines the patient, checking for pain and swelling along the posterior of the leg. The doctor interviews the patient regarding the onset, history, and description of pain and weakness. The
muscles, tissues, bones, and blood vessels may be evaluated with imaging studies, such as X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 1) Your Pharmacy stocks a range of cold packs which may be applied to the area to decrease inflammation. 2) Ask your Pharmacist about a temporary heel raise or pad
which can be inserted into footwear to decrease the force absorbed by the tendon when the feet land heavily on the ground. 3) Gently massaging a heat-producing liniment into the calf can help to
relieve tension in the muscle which may relieve the symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis. Ask your Pharmacist to recommend the most appropriate type. 4) Gels, sprays or creams which help to reduce
inflammation are available and may be applied to the injured area. Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 5) Your Pharmacist can advise you on analgesic, anti-inflammatory medications such as Aspirin which
may be of assistance. Aspirin should be avoided in children under the age of 12 and those aged 12 to 15 who have a fever. 6) Strapping the ankle can help restrict movement and minimise further
injury. Your Pharmacist stocks a range of athletic strapping tape and ankle guards which may assist your injury.
Around 1 in 4 people who have persisting pain due to Achilles tendinopathy has surgery to treat the condition. Most people have a good result from surgery and their pain is relieved. Surgery involves
either of the following, removing nodules or adhesions (parts of the fibres of the tendon that have stuck together) that have developed within the damaged tendon. Making a lengthways cut in the
tendon to help to stimulate and encourage tendon healing. Complications from surgery are not common but, if they do occur, can include problems with wound healing.
Achilles tendinitis cannot always be prevented but the following tips will help you reduce your risk. If you are new to a sport, gradually ramp up your activity level to your desired intensity and
duration. If you experience pain while exercising, stop. Avoid strenuous activity that puts excessive stress on your Achilles tendon. If you have a demanding workout planned, warm up slowly and
thoroughly. Always exercise in shoes that are in good condition and appropriate for your activity or sport. Be sure to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon before and after working out. If
you suffer from Achilles tendinitis make sure you treat it properly and promptly. If self-care techniques don?t work, don?t delay. Book a consultation with a foot care expert or you may find yourself
sidelined from your favourite sports and activities.