The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. It allows you to move your foot downwards and upwards. Pain in the Achilles tendon can be caused by overuse or tightness of the tendon and can lead to a painful thickening of the tendon known as Achilles tendinitis or tendinosis.
If you overstretch your Achilles tendon, or you were involved in an accident that ruptured or cut the Achilles tendon, damage may be complete or partial. Achilles tendon injuries mainly occur in people who are involved in sporting activities and athletes.
An Achilles tendon rupture usually occurs where the tendon is closest to the heel bone. Rupture or injury normally occurs here because there is limited blood flow in this part of the tendon.
Achilles tendon ruptures, tears or injuries are often caused by a sudden increase in the stress exerted on the Achilles tendon or injuries from accidents. It is more common in men than in women and in high-impact sports such as jumping, football, basketball and running. Falling or stepping into a deep hole can cause your Achilles’ tendon to rupture. If you are between the ages of 30 to 40, or older, you’re at higher risk of Achilles tendon rupture.
Injecting steroids into the ankle joint can weaken nearby tendons, leading to easy rupture of the Achilles tendon. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin, can increase the risk of Achilles tendon rupture. Excess weight can put a lot of pressure on the Achilles’ tendon which can lead to rupture as well.
If you are experiencing Achilles tendinitis/tendinosis, you may have the following symptoms:
Partial or complete rupture can include the follow symptoms:
During diagnosis, your doctor will conduct a physical exam to inspect your lower leg for tenderness and swelling. We’ll perform a series of physical tests to determine the extent of your injury. Your doctor may also order imaging scans such as MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound to examine the internal structure of your leg and evaluate the health of your Achilles’ tendon.
Treatment for Achilles tendon rupture often depends on your age, severity of the condition, and activity level. Younger people may require surgery to repair a completely ruptured Achilles tendon while older people may require nonsurgical management and treatment.
Treatment for partial tears and minor ankle injuries includes home remedies such as:
Rest. You should always rest and avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort. Also, limit the amount of walking and weight-bearing on the injured ankle.
Ice. Apply an ice pack on the pain area for 15 to 20 minutes and repeat it every two to three hours while you’re awake. Do not apply ice packs directly to your skin. Wrap the ice pack in a towel before placing it. Talk with your doctor first before applying ice if you have vascular disease, diabetes or decreased sensation.
Compression. Compress the ankle with an elastic bandage until the swelling stops. Do not compress too tightly as this can hinder your circulation.
Elevation. Elevate your ankle above the level of your heart, especially at night to reduce swelling. Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.
In most cases, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are enough to relieve the pain. In addition to medications, you should limit movements and avoid high-impact activities
Stretching and muscle strengthening can help improve your condition, especially if you have
partial rupture of the Achilles tendon. If your tendon is completely ruptured, you most likely require a surgical procedure to get it corrected.
The surgical procedure to fix a completely ruptured Achilles tendon generally involves stitching the torn tendon sections back together. The torn tendon may also be reinforced with other tendons if the condition is severe. Achilles tendinitis/tendinosis can be treated with surgery to remove the thickened fibrous tissue. After surgery, you may need to engage in physical therapy exercises to strengthen your Achilles’ tendon and leg muscles.
It could take as little as two to three weeks or as long as six weeks to heal. You will likely return to complete normalcy within four to six months.
There are different ways to manage and treat Achilles tendinitis. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition. You can treat mild conditions with home remedies, but severe conditions will likely require surgery.
Walking short distances can help strengthen your calf muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce pain.
Left untreated, Achilles tendinitis usually gets worse. You will likely begin to feel chronic pain and the tendon may get ruptured. The condition could become very serious and lead to more serious injury.
Gently rub the inflamed or ruptured tendon back and forth at the point where you feel increased tenderness. The directions of your massage should be perpendicular to the fibers of the tendon. Apply gentle pressure with your fingers and thumb when massaging.
You should see us for treatment if you feel severe pain in the back of your leg between your calf and heel. You should see us if your ankle or leg becomes stiff or sore. Also, see us if your heel, ankle or leg gets inflamed.
Are you suffering with Achilles tendinitis? Schedule an appointment with Graff Foot Ankle and Wound Care. Call (972) 403-7733 today or use our convenient Request an Appointment form to schedule your visit.
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I’ve suffered with DVT for many years and have seen many doctors with little or no help. A year ago, my leg was so bad that I was told I might lose it. I went to Dr. Kyprios. After a few visits he had it under control. He saved my leg. My only regret is that I didn’t go to him in the first place. Not only is he highly skilled, he is very personable and caring. I can’t thank him enough. And his people are great too. If you’re in need of wound care, he’s the Doctor to see.
My family doctor referred me to Dr. Graff, a wound care specialist, to treat a serious trauma injury to my leg received in a freak accident. Dr. Graff has been treating me since the accident and I am delighted with his handling of my injury. The healing of the leg wound is progressing at a rapid rate due to his medical expertise. He is a pleasant, patient, greatly skilled and articulate practitioner who is punctual, organized and has a highly capable support staff. I am glad to have met him and can unequivocally recommend Dr. Graff for wound care.
I received a recommendation from a friend to seek out Dr. Graff’s help for my ankle. Not only was his facility and team of medical personnel professional, but they also truly listened to my concerns with patience. Customer service and placing the patient’s needs as a priority is essential to recovery. I’m grateful this facility values that as well.
January 22, 2023
By Dr Graff
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