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Achilles Tendinitis: Discover The Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

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If you have persistent pain along the back of your leg and close to your heel, you may have a condition known as Achilles tendinitis. The condition causes inflammation along the Achilles tendon, which connects the middle of the calf to the heel bone. In severe cases, the tendon may become torn or ruptured, requiring extensive treatment or surgery. If you suspect you may have Achilles tendinitis, you should see a foot and ankle specialist, such as one from a location like Camden County Foot & Ankle Associates. He or she can make a conclusive diagnosis and establish a treatment plan for you.

What Are the Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?

The most prominent symptom of Achilles tendinitis is the pain mentioned earlier, which--again--usually occurs along the back of the calf or just above the heel. The ache or pain may be particularly noticeable after physical exertion, such as climbing stairs, walking, or running. When you awaken in the morning, your foot, heel, or ankle may feel stiff and sore. If your pain is chronic or severe, it may indicate a rupture. This often requires surgery to repair the torn tendon.

What Causes Achilles Tendinitis?

There are several reasons and risk factors for developing Achilles tendinitis. Overuse of the foot and ankle muscles are a contributing factor. If you participate in activities that require repetitive motion of the feet, if you stand on your feet for hours at a time, or if you are a runner, you may be at risk. Also, if you do not practice a proper running technique or if you wear poorly fitted shoes, you may be more susceptible.

There are other contributing factors to developing Achilles tendinitis, as well. For instance, a family history of the condition may increase the risk. Obesity may also play a role. Additionally, individuals with high blood pressure or diabetes have a higher risk. You should also note that if you are taking quinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, your Achilles tendon may be prone to inflammation and rupture.

What Will Happen At the Podiatrist's Office?

Your visit will most likely begin with an evaluation and a series of questions. Your podiatrist may ask you if the pain occurred suddenly or over a period of time. He or she may ask if you feel increased pain after exercise or activities. You may be asked about the type of footwear you use for exercise or sports. The doctor will want to know if you are currently taking medications, as well as inquire about your medical and family medical history.

After an examination, your podiatrist may order some tests. This may include an x-ray as well as magnetic resonance imaging (an MRI). The MRI uses a very strong magnet and radio waves to produce a clear view of the tendons and muscles of the targeted area. It can help the doctor make a definitive diagnosis and clearly determine if there is a tear or rupture in your tendon. You should note that an MRI is not recommended for some individuals, such as pregnant women or those with a cardiac pacemaker.

How Is Achilles Tendinitis Typically Treated?

If you are experiencing only minor discomfort and your doctor does not suspect a tear or rupture, you may be advised to take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen. For more severe pain, you may be prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. An orthotic device (shoe insert) may ease the stress on your affected foot and cushion the impact as you walk.

In some cases, physical therapy may improve the pain and improve range of motion. If your podiatrist prescribes such a treatment, you may attend weekly sessions with a physical therapist. These sessions typically involve strengthening exercises and gentle stretching, intended to facilitate healing.

Prevention Is Key

As a final consideration, remember that prevention is your best course of action. To lower the risk of developing problems affecting the Achilles tendon, warm up with gentle stretching before exercising. Also, wear proper footwear intended for your type of sport or exercise and be sure they fit well.