‘The Achilles tendinitis’ An Overview:
Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone(Calcaneus). It may become painful when the load on the tendon increases as during an exercises. Achilles tendinitis is commonly seen in runners but can occur in sedentary population as well. In the elder populations it has been associated with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and high cholesterol. Achilles tendon is supposed to be one of the strongest tendons of the human body and helps calf muscle (gastro-soleus) in propelling the body. Any sudden change in the loading pattern of the tendon or overuse of the achilles tendon may lead to abrasive forces. These abrasive forces increase the rate of degenerative changes and may in severe cases lead to partial or complete achilles tendon tear.
Patients experience pain, swelling and stiffness around back of the heel and is worse when starting activity after a period of rest. It may increase on excessive walking or squatting. Any change in walking pattern, like brisk walk, may also aggravate or incite the pain of Achilles tendinitis. Some patients also complain of swelling/deformity at the back of the heel (Haglund’s Deformity). The condition is usually diagnosed by clinical evaluation and treated conservatively.
The aim of the treatment is to reduce the stress on the tendon while progressively increasing its capacity to withstand load. One must allow themselves a period of rest (7-10 days) from activities that increase the pain. Ice packs can help with the pain and the inflammation. Your doctor/physiotherapist can identify the underlying bio-mechanical cause of Achilles tendinitis and prescribe exercises to strengthen the calf muscles. Other adjuncts for treatment includes footwear modification, orthotics, electrotherapy, massage and foam rolling. They form essential part of treatment in Achilles tendinopathy.
For follow up patients, heres a small quick set of stretches for your achilles tendonitis. Please understand that exercises might do more harm than good when done in an acute stage of tendinitis or when performed unsupervised !!