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Achilles Tendon Pain

Achilles Tendon Pain

Achilles tendonitis is a condition that causes pain in the Achilles tendon which stretches from the heel bones to the calf muscles. This article provides a brief overview about its causes, symptoms, treatment, and possible preventive measures.
Loveleena Rajeev
Pain occurs when there is an irritation or an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This tendon joins the heel of the foot to the calf muscles. It is the largest tendon in the body, and is thick enough to support the entire body weight. Any rupture (small or big), inflammation, or injury to it causes pain while walking or running, as the tendon has to bear nearly eight times an individual's body weight during a sprint or a run.
Achilles Tendonitis
Causes
There are numerous reasons why Achilles tendon can inflame. A common cause is the advancing age, where it becomes less flexible and more susceptible to injury. It can also be caused due to excessive shearing and stretching forces placed on the tendon, resulting in inflammation and tightening of the calf muscles.
Footwear contributes heavily to tendon irritation. Ill-fitting shoes or high heels force the feet to be confined in less space, shortening the Achilles tendon, leading to an increased tension. Shoes that have excessive heel cushioning for greater shock absorption, stretch the tendon, as absorption of shock sinks the shoe more frequently when the heel makes contact with the ground. Mechanical abnormalities and misalignment such as misshapen foot or heel bones, unequal leg length, short or tight calf muscles, weak calf muscles, all lead to placing excessive stress on the tendon, making it prone to injuries and pain. Athletes who increase their training duration with more powerful movements during exercises also experience Achilles tendonitis.
Symptoms
The most common symptom is the searing heel pain experienced over the back of the heel. This occurs because the tendon gets pushed on the heel bone. It causes tenderness around the tendon, and in some extreme cases, there is an occurrence of a localized nodule filled with a small sack of fluid on the tendon. For most people suffering with Achilles tendon pain, walking during early mornings, or a long period of inactivity is the most painful time. A sudden sprint, or a jumping activity also results in a lot of pain. A slight swelling around the heels and sometimes around the calf muscles are also an exhibited symptom of this condition.
Prevention and Treatment
Preventing the pain is simple. Avoiding any activity that places stress on the tendon is the simplest preventive measure. Treatment includes therapy as well as medications. A therapeutic approach includes rest and immobilization. Together, it will help reduce the swelling and inflammation on the tendon. To increase the flow of blood around the tendon and reduce swelling, one can apply an ice pack several times a day. Avoid giving heat treatment, and wearing thick warm socks (unless medically recommended). Heel relaxing products such as arch supports, heel cups, etc. inserted into the shoes, are used to minimize the stress on the Achilles tendon. Many physical therapists recommend stretching and rehabilitation program to increase the flexibility of the tendon. Medications mostly include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications along with painkillers, or in severe cases cortisone injections are administered.
Achilles tendonitis is a very painful condition, which can hamper the course of a normal life. A constant painful tendon leads to rupture, and in extreme cases, an individual is rendered immobile for days. Prevention can help many avert this condition.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.