The Achilles tendon,
which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, can withstand significant pressure from physical activities. Achilles tendinitis is estimated to account for approximately 11 percent of all running
injuries, as the Achilles tendon provides the momentum to push off to walk or run. Achilles tendinitis, also called Achilles tendinopathy, results from overuse, injury or disease of the Achilles
tendon, which causes the area to become inflamed. There are two types of Achilles tendinitis: Non-insertional Achilles Tendinitis - Fibers that are located in the middle portion of the tendon began
to develop small tears that cause swelling and thickening. This type of tendinitis is usually found in younger people who are very active. Insertional Achilles Tendinitis - Develops where the tendon
attaches to the heel bone in the lower part of the heel. Extra bone growth also called bone spurs form because of this tendinitis and can affect patients at any time, even if they are not
Achilles tendinitis is caused by repeated stress to the tendon, not a direct injury. Often times, this can happen from doing too much too soon and not giving your body enough time to rest or adjust
to the increase in intensity or amount of exercise. Another contributing factor can be tight calf muscles. Having tight calf muscles and starting an activity can put added stress on the achilles
Morning pain is a hallmark symptom because the achilles tendon must tolerate full range of movement including stretch immediately on rising in the morning. Symptoms are typically localized to the
tendon and immediate surrounding area. Swelling and pain at the attachment are less common. The tendon can appear to have subtle changes in outline, becoming thicker in the A-P and M-L planes. With
people who have a tendinopathy of the achilles tendon that has a sensitive zone, combined with intratendinous swelling, that moves along with the tendon and of which sensitivity increases or
decreases when the tendon is put under pressure, there will be a high predictive value that in this situation there is a case of tendinosis.
There is enlargement and warmth of the tendon 1 to 4 inches above its heel insertion. Pain and sometimes a scratching feeling may be created by gently squeezing the tendon between the thumb and
forefinger during ankle motion. There may be weakness in push-off strength with walking. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can define the extent of degeneration, the degree to which the tendon sheath
is involved and the presence of other problems in this area, but the diagnosis is mostly clinical.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 1) Your Pharmacy stocks a range of cold packs which may be applied to the area to decrease inflammation. 2) Ask your Pharmacist about a temporary heel raise or pad
which can be inserted into footwear to decrease the force absorbed by the tendon when the feet land heavily on the ground. 3) Gently massaging a heat-producing liniment into the calf can help to
relieve tension in the muscle which may relieve the symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis. Ask your Pharmacist to recommend the most appropriate type. 4) Gels, sprays or creams which help to reduce
inflammation are available and may be applied to the injured area. Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 5) Your Pharmacist can advise you on analgesic, anti-inflammatory medications such as Aspirin which
may be of assistance. Aspirin should be avoided in children under the age of 12 and those aged 12 to 15 who have a fever. 6) Strapping the ankle can help restrict movement and minimise further
injury. Your Pharmacist stocks a range of athletic strapping tape and ankle guards which may assist your injury.
Surgery usually isn't needed to treat Achilles tendinopathy. But in rare cases, someone might consider surgery when rubbing between the tendon and the tissue covering the tendon (tendon sheath)
causes the sheath to become thick and fibrous. Surgery can be done to remove the fibrous tissue and repair any small tendon tears. This may also help prevent an Achilles tendon rupture.
Maintaining strength and flexibility in the muscles of the calf will help reduce the risk of tendinitis. Overusing a weak or tight Achilles tendon makes you more likely to develop tendinitis.