Our ankles allow us to perform all of our favorite physical activities, from running and jumping to playing sports. But when they’re not functioning properly, it can be difficult to do even simple things like walking.
If you’re dealing with chronic ankle pain, it may be due to an injury of the Achilles tendon. One of the most common Achilles tendon injuries, Achilles tendinitis, can truly take someone out of their normal routine.
At South Texas Podiatrist, Dr. Eddie Davis is a board-certified foot and ankle specialist with years of experience treating Achilles tendon problems, including Achilles tendinitis. Dr. Davis and his team are passionate about patient education, so if you think you may be dealing with Achilles tendinitis, read on to learn more about the condition and its symptoms.
Here’s what you should know about Achilles tendon injury and how to find relief with the right chronic ankle pain treatment for you:
What Is The Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon is a thick band of tissue located at the back of the lower leg. The Achilles tendon attaches the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles -- that is, the calf muscles -- to the heel bone.
Because the Achilles tendon connects to these muscles, they work together to help us lift our heels off the ground as we walk, run, and jump. The Achilles tendon is essential for these types of movements, which is why an injury to this area can be so debilitating.
What Is Achilles Tendinitis?
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and one of the strongest. However, it’s also susceptible to overuse injuries. Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, and it’s characterized by inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the affected area.
Achilles tendinitis most commonly affects people who are active and participate in sports that involve running or jumping, such as:
- Track and field
The condition can also develop in people who are not active and have a sedentary lifestyle. In these cases, the Achilles tendon may be tight and unable to handle the strain of everyday activities.
What Are Common Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?
If you're experiencing chronic ankle or heel pain, Achilles tendinitis may be to blame. Here are some common Achilles tendonitis symptoms we see at South Texas Podiatrist:
- Severe pain and tenderness along the Achilles tendon, typically worse with activity
- Ankle pain and swelling
- Stiffness and inflammation in the affected area
- Heel pain and swelling
- Difficulty flexing the foot or pointing the toes (due to pain)
- A creaking or crackling sound when moving
- Morning pain that subsides as you warm up
If you’re dealing with any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment from a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon like Dr. Davis. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can find relief and get back to your normal activities.
Are There Different Types of Achilles Tendon Injury?
Achilles tendinopathy is a general term used to describe any Achilles tendon problem. There are a few different types of Achilles tendinopathy, some of which are simply types of Achilles tendinitis. Some conditions are more serious than others. The most common types of Achilles tendon injury include:
Insertional Achilles tendinitis:
This type of Achilles tendinitis affects the bottom portion of the tendon where it meets the heel bone. It’s common in middle-aged adults who are active.
Noninsertional Achilles tendinitis:
This type of Achilles tendinitis affects the middle portion of the tendon. It’s common in young adults who are active.
Achilles tendinosis is a degenerative condition that results from the overuse of the tendon. It’s characterized by small tears in the tissue.
Achilles tendon bursitis:
Achilles tendon bursitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) that surrounds the Achilles tendon.
Achilles tendon rupture:
An Achilles rupture is a complete or partial tear of the Achilles tendon. It’s a serious injury that often requires surgery.
How Is Achilles Tendinitis Diagnosed?
To diagnose Achilles tendinitis, your doctor will start by asking about your symptoms and medical history. They will also perform a physical exam of the affected area. In some cases, imaging tests such as an MRI scan or ultrasound may be ordered to rule out other conditions.
What Are the Treatments for Achilles Tendinitis?
The goal of treatment for Achilles tendinitis is to reduce pain and inflammation, and ultimately to restore the injured tendon to its full function. At South Texas Podiatrist, we feel strongly about utilizing the least invasive treatment options available.
Common nonsurgical treatments we provide for Achilles tendinitis at South Texas Podiatrist include:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Cortisone injections: Corticosteroid injections may be recommended to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapy program that includes exercises and stretching can help improve flexibility and strength.
- Splinting or bracing: Wearing a splint, brace, or sports bandage can help immobilize the tendon and allow it to heal.
In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon. Achilles tendinitis surgery is typically a minimally invasive procedure. The most common type of surgery for Achilles tendinitis is called debridement and repair. This involves removing the damaged tendon tissue and repairing the tendon with stitches.
Visit An Ankle Specialist Near You
If you’re living with chronic ankle or heel pain, don’t wait to seek treatment. Achilles tendinitis is a condition that will only get worse without proper treatment, and the sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances are for a full recovery.
If you think you may be dealing with Achilles tendinitis or another Achilles tendon injury, contact South Texas Podiatrist today. Dr. Davis and his team will work with you to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
With 20+ years of experience providing top-quality foot care, South Texas Podiatrist is here to help you get back on your feet. If you’re ready to experience care from the top podiatrist San Antonio has to offer, schedule an appointment with our foot and ankle health team today.