Conquering Achilles: From Tendinitis to Rupture, Expert Tips for Healing and Prevention

Achilles Tendinitis: Unraveling the Painful Overuse of Your Heel Hero

Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the tendon, which usually occurs
as a result of overuse injury. Anyone can have Achilles tendonitis. Athletics involving
frequent jumping is the classic cause, but certainly not the only one. Any activity
requiring a constant pushing off the foot, such as running or dancing, may result in
swelling of the tendon.

Symptoms and Treatment: Taming the Tender Tendon with Ice, Stretches, and Smart Steps

People with Achilles tendinitis may experience pain during and after exercising.
Running and jumping activities become painful and difficult. Symptoms include
stiffness and pain in the back of the ankle when pushing off the ball of the foot. For
patients with chronic tendinitis (longer than six weeks), x-rays may reveal
calcification (hardening of the tissue) in the tendon. Chronic tendinitis can result in a
breakdown of the tendon, or tendinosis, which weakens the tendon and may cause
a rupture. The recommended treatment for Achilles tendinitis consists of icing,
gentle stretching, and modifying or limiting activity. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naprosyn, can reduce pain and swelling. Physical therapy and the use of an orthosis (heel lift) can also be helpful. For chronic
cases where tendinosis is evident and other methods of treatment have failed,
surgery may be recommended to remove and repair the damaged tissue.

Torn Achilles: A Sudden Snap – Recognizing the Rupture and Road to Recovery

Achilles tendon rupture is a severe and disabling injury. A rupture usually takes place
a couple of inches above the joining of the tendon and the heel bone. This typically
occurs when someone contracts, or tightens, the calf muscle and suddenly pushes
off the foot, such as in basketball or racquet sports. The injured person experiences
pain, swelling, and an inability to stand on their tiptoes. The person may feel as if
they were “kicked in the back of the heel.”

Surgery vs. No Surgery: Weighing the Options for Achilles Redemption

Achilles tendon ruptures occur most commonly in middle aged patients as a result of overused or unused muscles. An injured person experiences extreme difficulty with
pushing off the foot and even walking. Among other things, physical exam reveals
swelling, a gap in the tendon, and a decrease in “resting tension” in the tendon.
Imaging with x-rays and an MRI are often obtained to confirm the diagnosis and look
for other injuries.

Back in the Game: How Texas Sports Medicine Champions Your Speedy Return

Achilles ruptures may be treated surgically or nonsurgically. This decision can be
made by the patient under the guidance of an orthopaedic surgeon. Regardless, a
period of immobilization is required to allow the tendon to fully heal. If the repair
allows, early motion has been shown to result in improved range of motion, strength,
and earlier return to athletics. At Texas Sports Medicine, we deal commonly with
athletes and their injuries. Our goal is to return the athlete to the playing field as
quickly aspossible while never compromising safety and overall well being.