Achilles tendinopathy is a disorder that affects the Achilles tendon, which runs down the back of the leg and links the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is a frequent overuse injury that arises when the tendon is strained repeatedly, creating inflammation and tiny rips in the tissue. Athletes and persons who participate in frequent physical activity are more likely to develop the illness, particularly those who abruptly increase the intensity or length of their exercise.
Overuse and repeated stress on the Achilles tendon induce Achilles tendinopathy. This can result from a variety of activities, including:
- Running or jogging: The repetitive force of foot strikes on the Achilles tendon, especially if the person is preparing for a marathon or other long-distance event, can cause it to become strained.
- Jumping: Jumping activities, such as basketball or volleyball, can place strain on the Achilles tendon.
- Dancing: Certain styles of dance, such as ballet or modern dance, can cause Achilles tendon tension.
- Hill running: Running uphill places more strain on the Achilles tendon than running flat.
- Tight calf muscles: Tight calf muscles can put additional strain on the Achilles tendon.
- Poorly fitted shoes: Wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support or have worn-out soles can place additional strain on the Achilles tendon.
- Increase in physical activity too rapidly: Increasing the intensity or length of physical exercise too quickly might put strain on the tendon.
- Age: As we become older, our tendons lose part of their suppleness, leaving us more vulnerable to damage. It's important to address the underlying causes of the condition such as overuse, improper footwear or training on hard surfaces. It's also important to prevent re-injury by gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity and addressing any underlying muscle imbalances.
Risk factors for Achilles tendinopathy include:
- Age: As we become older, our tendons lose part of their suppleness, leaving us more prone to injury.
- Gender: Men are more prone than women to develop Achilles tendinopathy.
- Physical exercise: People who participate in frequent physical activity, particularly running and jumping sports, are more likely to develop Achilles tendinopathy.
- Occupation: People whose employment require them to stand or walk for long periods of time, such as construction workers or factory employees, are more likely to develop Achilles tendinopathy.
- Medical conditions: Diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, for example, might raise the risk of Achilles tendinopathy.
- Medications: Corticosteroids, for example, can raise the risk of Achilles tendinopathy.
- Exercising: A sudden increase in the intensity or length of physical activity, training on hard surfaces, poor form, or disregarding the body's exhaustion signals can all raise the risk of Achilles tendinopathy.
- Lack of flexibility: Tight calf muscles or a lack of ankle and heel flexibility can put additional strain on the Achilles tendon.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include:
The Achilles tendon, which is positioned in the rear of the ankle, is the most prevalent symptom of Achilles tendinopathy. The discomfort may be felt first thing in the morning, after a period of rest, or when engaged in activities that impose strain on the tendon.
The Achilles tendon may feel stiff, particularly in the morning or after rest.
- Achilles tendon tenderness
The Achilles tendon may be painful to the touch.
Swelling around the Achilles tendon is possible.
The afflicted limb may feel weak, making flexing or pushing off with the affected foot difficult.
- Cracking or creaking sound
When moving the ankle or tendon, a creaking or crackling sound may be heard.
- Limited range of motion
The afflicted ankle and foot may have limited range of motion. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to consult with a doctor or physical therapist for an accurate diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan.
Rest, physical therapy, and exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons in the leg are common treatments for Achilles tendinopathy. To manage discomfort, orthotic inserts, bracing, or medication may be utilized in some circumstances. A doctor or physical therapist should be consulted for a specific treatment plan. It is critical to treat the underlying causes of the problem, such as overuse, incorrect footwear, or hard surface training. Preventing re-injury also requires progressively increasing the intensity and duration of physical exercise and treating any underlying muscular imbalances.