Achilles tendinitis or Achilles Tendinopathy refers to the inflammation of the Achilles tendon as a result of the tendon being put under too much strain. The Achilles tendon joins the calf muscles to the heel bone and is found at the back of a person’s lower leg. It is the largest tendon in the body and can endure great force. This tendon is used when one walks, runs or jumps. Achilles tendinitis is usually caused by strenuous, high impact exercise such as running. This overuse injury is more common in younger people who are involved in sports or run frequently, though it can also happen to people who do not play sport. Achilles tendinitis can lead to tendon tear or rupture therefore, it is always important to seek proper treatment. Achilles tendinitis causes one to experience pain and swelling on their ankles and feet. There are various treatment methods available in Singapore that can be used,depending whether the patient is an athlete or not. In this article we are going to discuss management of Achilles Tendinitis.
Apply icepacks to the tendon when in pain or after exercising to alleviate the pain and inflammation. The icepacks can be placed to the inflamed area for up to 20 minutes and removed when the area becomes numb. Repeat as many times as needed throughout the day.
- Elevating the foot
Swelling can be reduced if the foot is kept raised above the level of the heart. This reduces the pressure applied on the foot.
Resting gives the tissues in the tendon time to heal. For mild Achilles tendinitis, its advised to reduce the intensity of the workouts while severe Achilles tendinitis might require complete rest for a specific period of time.
- Exercise and stretching
A doctor can recommend a patient to do some stretching exercises that will help the Achilles tendon heal as well as preventing any future injury or refer the patient to a physiotherapist. The exercises learned will improve the mobility to the area and increase calf strength.
- Pain relievers
There are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Ibuprofen and aspirin which reduces pain and swelling. It is recommended to check with your doctor prior to using them, especially if you are suffering from asthma.
- Steroid injections
Steroid injections reduce the tendon swelling. Usually prescribed by a doctor as it has been associated with a greater risk of tendon rupture.
- Supportive shoes and orthotic devices
Ankle supports and shoe inserts can aid recovery as they take the stress off the Achilles tendon. The footwear can also be changed to accommodate a brace, boot or cast to keep the heel and tendon and heel still and allow the swelling to go down. Wearing shoes that are softer in the areas over and under the heel cushion also helps.
Surgery is performed to repair any damage to the tendon in cases of Achilles tendinitis. This is usually an option for patients with recurring Achilles tendinitis, which has led to the rupture of the tendon due to the ongoing inflammation. Surgery for many patients is usually the last resort if the other treatment methods have proved unsuccessful.
Lastly, they say prevention is better than cure. Though Achilles tendinitis cannot be completely prevented, the risk of developing it can be lowered. Being aware of the causes of the injury and risks is reduced by taking the following precautions:
- Getting a variety of exercises
Alternating between high impact exercises (i.e. running) and low impact exercises (i.e. swimming) goes a long way in helping the prevention of this injury this is because there are days when the Achilles tendon is under less tension.
- Wearing the correct shoes
Ensure that the shoes you were support the arch and protect the heel as this will create less tension in the tendon. It is also very important to replace them as soon as they get worn out.
- Stretching exercises
Stretching before and after exercising helps keep the Achilles tendon flexible;thus, lowering chances of developing Achilles tendinitis. Frequent stretching will even improve your flexibility.
- Gradual increase of workout intensity
Achilles tendinitis occurs when there is a sudden strain on the tendon. Therefore, warm ups and gradual increase in the levels of activity gives your muscles time to loosen up and puts less pressure on the tendon.