The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous cord that connects the muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. It is crucial as it allows you to lift your heel when you walk, jog and run. Considering how important the Achilles tendon is to our day-to-day activities and how often we use it, the tendon is highly susceptible to injury.
Typically, Achilles tendon tear treatment may require surgery by an Achilles tendon specialist. Other injury recovery processes, such as an Achilles strain treatment, may be done without surgery. Here are common causes of Achilles tendon pain that may prompt you to see an Achilles tendon specialist.
Achilles tendinopathy is a blanket term for problems concerning the Achilles tendon or its insertion onto the bone. It is typically an injury that occurs when the Achilles tendon is being overused. Athletes – both professional and casual – are the most susceptible to suffer from forms of Achilles tendinopathy. There can be development of a bony spur which is painful.
The most common occurrence of Achilles tendinopathy is when the Achilles tendon is overused and stressed, developing small tears and degeneration. Participants in sports that involve running and jumping – such as basketball – are the most susceptible. Other causes of Achilles tendon pain and tendinopathy are overweight and obesity, existing foot problems and unsupportive footwear.
Achilles Tendonitis & Achilles Tendinosis
Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon and is typically short-lived. If the issue is not resolved, however, the condition may progress into Achilles tendinosis, which is the degeneration of the tendon. This is when the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears.
Achilles tendonitis and tendinosis are typically caused by a sudden increase in repetitive activity that involves the Achilles tendon. Activities that put too much stress on the tendon too quickly can then lead to micro-injury of the tendon fibres. The body is consequently unable to repair the injured tissue due to the ongoing stress being put on the tendon.
Achilles tendon tear
An Achilles tendon tear occurs when the tendon is overstretched and is torn away (ruptures) either partially or completely. If your Achilles tendon ruptures you may hear a pop, followed by an immediate sharp pain in the back of your ankle and lower leg. A torn Achilles tendon will likely affect your ability to walk properly.
Achilles tendon ruptures are typically caused by a sudden increase in stress on the tendon, such as falling from a height and stepping into a hole. However, like most injuries linked to the Achilles tendon, sports participation is the most common cause of a rupture.
If you suspect you may have a form of Achilles tendinopathy, see your doctor or a physiotherapist as soon as possible. You may be then referred to an Achilles tendon specialist. Common methods used to diagnose problems with your Achilles tendon include a physical examination and a medical history check.
Tests such as an x-ray of the foot, ultrasound, blood tests and an MRI scan may be performed. Treatment can often be slow, whether you are receiving Achilles tendon tear treatment or Achilles strain treatment, or another form of treatment. Serious cases may require surgery.
Doctor Julian Lane is a lower limb orthopaedic and Achilles tendon specialist. If you are experiencing Achilles tendon pain or have an injury related to sport, work or otherwise, contact the friendly team at Lane Orthopaedic Surgery today on 07 3394 4228.