Achilles Tendinitis also colloquially referred to as Achilles tendinopathy or Achilles heel is an inflamed condition of the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg running till your heel bone or calcaneus. Being the largest tendon of the body, it can withstand huge amount of stress from running and exercising but is still vulnerable to tear and injury.
It is very common in athletes, runners and sports person where intense workout, exercising, over straining of the tendon muscles or a sudden jolt or sprint may cause a pull at the tendons resulting in injury or tear in the Achilles heel causing painful inflammation.
Achilles tendonitis is of two types:
Insertional Achilles tendonitis affecting the lower part of the tendon muscles attached to your heel bone.
Non insertional Achilles tendonitis involving fibres in the middle of the tendon which tends to affect active younger people.
Adapted from the Greek mythology, Achilles heel refers to the physical vulnerability of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan war had in his lower calf muscle in spite of his overall strength that ultimately led to his un time death.
- Pain at the back of the heel
- Swelling in the tendons like tennis elbow
- Thickening at the tendon
- Intense pain after workouts and in the morning
- Bone Spur
- Limited movement when flexing of the foot
- Tightened calf muscles
Diagnosis and Treatment:
A physical examination of the inflamed tendon is normally carried out by a doctor or healthcare provider by gently pressing the affected area to perceive the degree of pain or swelling. The doctor may also evaluate the symptoms by various imaging techniques like X-Ray, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Ultrasound.
Tendonitis can be fixed with proper care at home by moderate exercising, resting, applying an ice pack on the affected area, compression bandages, physiotherapy, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) or wearing supportive shoes and orthotics.
Acute tendonitis can be treated by using over the counter steroids or non-steroidal pain medications. A complete tear or severe injury of the tendons can only be treated by surgery which may include:
Debridement and repair are done when the damage of the tendon is 50%.
Gastrocnemius recession is done when the calf muscles are surgically elongated.
Debridement with tendon transfer is done when the damage of tendon is more than 50%.