In mythology, the Greek hero Achilles was taken down by poison arrow to the calcaneal tendon, which we now know as the Achilles tendon. Although the story is clearly grounded in myth, it does have some parallels with modern (sporting warriors) getting put out of action due to Achilles injuries.
The Achilles tendon runs from the calf muscle to the heel, which means it plays a crucial part in the mechanisms of the legs. Whenever you perform any movement of the legs or feet, the Achilles tendon comes into play. Actions such as walking, running, or jumping all use the Achilles tendon through every phase.
While this tendon is incredibly strong, it is subject to a high risk of injury because of the strains that it often has to endure. Athletes, especially, put more pressure on the Achilles tendon while participating in sporting activities.
Achilles tendonitis is a very common condition that is largely associated with sports injuries. The condition results in inflammation and pain originating in the heel. Sufferers may also experience pain in the back of the leg and calf.
In many cases of Achilles tendonitis, the cause is simply related to over exertion. However, athletes with tighter calf muscles or flat feet tend to run a higher risk of injury from Achilles tendonitis.
The importance of early treatment for Achilles tendonitis cannot be stressed enough. Early treatment will reduce treatment time in most cases. Treatment for the condition consists of two main goals: treating pain and inflammation first, then therapy to strengthen the Achilles tendon. When athletes continue to participate in sport, the condition becomes more severe. As a result the first stage of treatment will likely take much longer.
Once it is clear that injury has occurred, the athlete should avoid further participation in sport. Rest is an essential aid to treatment, so reducing weight on the foot is good practice when possible. Ice, combined with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as NSAIDS, is a good way to help reduce pain and inflammation. To keep weight off the foot, devices such as crutches or a walking boot may also be necessary.
PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections are sometimes used to promote natural repair of damaged tissue. This treatment uses the blood cells and other cells from the athlete’s body to aid in the healing process.
Once pain and inflammation have been adequately reduced, we will shift the focus to training to prevent further injury. Strengthening the Achilles tendon and surrounding muscles is essential to recovery. A full movement profile is created, taking shoe types and any anatomical abnormalities in account. A physical therapy plan is then created based on the needs of the individual. Some patients may need special boots to help strengthen the Achilles tendon.
During treatment, it is important to continue to avoid participation in sporting activities. Some patients will begin to feel fit during the early stages of the second phase of treatment. However, if you are not experiencing and pain or inflammation, it does not mean that the Achilles tendon is fully healed. Until a chiropodist has signed you off treatment, you must continue with your recommended exercise and rest schedule.
At Step By Step, we are well versed in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. We offer all our patients an individual treatment plan, which provides the best possible steps to full recovery. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your Achilles tendon, contact Step by Step for a consultation today.