What is the Achilles Tendon?
If you’re a Greek mythology buff, you’ve definitely heard of Achilles. He was an indestructible warrior except for one spot: his heel. The myth lives on today with the largest tendon in the body being named the Achilles tendon. It runs from the back of the heel up the leg. Just like Achilles, the tendon can become injured and cause discomfort, and so it is known as Achilles Tendinitis. Schedule an appointment with your local podiatrist today if you notice any pain at the back of your heel.
What is the Achilles Tendon?
Your Achilles Tendon is what allows you to walk, run, jump, and exercise. It connects the various muscles to the ankle bone. You use it every time you stand, move forward while walking, or spring up when jumping. It’s almost non-stop use is what makes it the target of frequent injury.
When an individual gets into their 30’s and beyond, the Achilles Tendon loses some of its stretchiness. Older athletes are at an even higher risk of injury because of the strain forced on their tendons while running and jumping.
Be careful if you’re an older athlete and participate in these sports:
Ankle Pain and Treatment
Achilles Tendinitis is when the tendon becomes inflamed from overuse. Patients notice pain in the ankle region when walking or exercising. An increase in physical activity results in more discomfort. If left untreated, the pain becomes so severe that mobility is virtually impossible.
At your appointment with the podiatrist, you’ll go over your medical history and undergo a physical examination. The podiatrist will inspect the Achilles region and manipulate the area. They’ll note things like tenderness, thickness, swelling, and bumps. X-rays aren’t needed for diagnosis, but an MRI can rule out whether the tendon has ruptured.
Lifestyle adjustments are the first line of defense in terms of treatment. You need to avoid walking barefoot while you heal. It might seem strange, but wearing shoes every time you move will help in your recovery. Heel lifts are necessary every time you wear shoes. Both the shoes and the lifts take the pressure off your Achilles tendon You should also suspend all physical activities while you rest. Talk to your podiatrist about alternative sports like swimming.
At-home care is essential for a healthy recovery. Use over-the-counter pain medications for swelling and discomfort. Icing is also necessary for keeping your inflammation down. Even though swelling is a normal bodily reaction, that doesn’t make it any less painful! Your podiatrist will also likely recommend stretching exercises. This loosens your tendon to avoid stress during physical activity.
It will take a few weeks, but you will gradually be able to return to your previous physical regimen. Just make sure you are taking it slow and consulting with your podiatrist. You need to carefully monitor your progress to avoid reinjury. Let your podiatrist know if your condition isn’t improving.