COMMON DISORDERS OF THE ACHILLES TENDON
What Is the Achilles Tendon?
A tendon is a band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. The
Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendonosis
Two common disorders that occur in the heel cord are Achilles tendonitis and Achilles
Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the
As “overuse” disorders, Achilles tendonitis and
Athletes are at high risk for developing disorders of the
In addition, people with excessive pronation (flattening of the arch) have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis and
The symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis and
- Pain—aching, stiffness, soreness, or tenderness—within the tendon. This may occur anywhere along the tendon’s path, beginning with the tendon’s attachment directly above the heel upward to the region just below the calf muscle. Often pain appears upon arising in the morning or after periods of rest, then improves somewhat with motion but later worsens with increased activity.
- Tenderness, or sometimes intense pain, when the sides of the tendon are squeezed. There is less tenderness,
however,when pressing directly on the back of the tendon.
- When the disorder progresses to degeneration, the tendon may become enlarged and may develop nodules in the area where the tissue is damaged.
In diagnosing Achilles tendonitis or
Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or
- Immobilization. Immobilization may involve the use of a cast or removable walking boot to reduce forces through the
Achillestendon and promote healing.
- Ice. To reduce swelling due to inflammation, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area for 20 minutes of each waking hour. Do not put ice directly against the skin.
- Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation in the early stage of the condition.
- Orthotics. For those with over-pronation or gait abnormalities, custom orthotic devices may be prescribed.
- Night splints. Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the
Achillestendon during sleep.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises, soft-tissue massage/mobilization, gait and running re-education, stretching, and ultrasound therapy.
When is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition, surgery may be necessary. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the best procedure to repair the tendon, based upon the extent of the injury, the patient’s age and activity level, and other factors.
To prevent Achilles tendonitis or