What is Achilles tendinitis?
The Achilles tendon is the tough fibrous cord that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The tendon is responsible for all actions that allow you to walk, run, jump and even stand. What this means is that almost all daily actions requiring any up right or lower body movement will apply a degree of stress and weight on the tendons.
Achilles tendinitis is the result of continuous overuse of the surrounding muscles and ligaments leading to inflammation of the area surrounding the Achilles tendon. Due to a number of contributing factors such as lack of rest – Achilles tendinitis will cause pain when weight is applied onto the foot as well as swelling around the Achilles.
It is important that tendinitis is not confused with tendinosis
- Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon whereas;
- Tendinosis is the result of micro tears in the tendon overtime – which then can lead to more serious injury if not allowed to heal properly
Degrees of severity:
There are 3 stages of tendinitis:
- Inflammation of the muscle and tissue neighbouring the Achilles tendon
- Irritation – redness, tenderness and swelling present in affected area
- Inflammation of the tendon itself
- A sharp pain can be felt directly on the tendon during activity
- The tendon is weakened over time as a result
- May lead to large tears or rupture (worst case)
CAUSES of Achilles tendinitis:
People who are prone to getting tendinitis commonly participate in sports or activities that have repetitive motions causing constant stress and shock on the tendon and joints:
- Uneven surfaces causing unstable movement and unbalanced pressure on the Achilles tendon
- Sudden transition in surface – Eg: running from sand on to solid concrete can damage and weaken the tendon; as it becomes accustomed to keeping stable on the soft loose surface of sand, the sudden change to concrete emphasises the high impact upon stable ground.
Most tendinitis is caused by wear and tear over time, but has the tendency to appear as a sudden injury because of the tendon weakening over time.
Other causes include:
- Wearing incorrect footwear – shoes that are too soft or too hard may not adequately support your arch or your ankle
- Flat feet (over-pronation of ankles) – will cause your ankle and your Achilles to “roll” in – causing more stress on the Achilles as it is out of alignment.
- High heels (constant walking on toes – constant tightness in calf muscle leads to straining the Achilles tendon)
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis:
The pain of Achilles tendinitis varies from case to case, but it is usually present before or after physical activity when the surrounding muscle and ligaments are not warmed up yet. The pain will subside during physical activity because the muscles have warmed up allowing for increased range of motion and loosening of muscle strains. Depending on the severity of the tendinitis, pain can still be present throughout activity.
Common symptoms include:
- Stiffness in the surrounding area
- Joint pain
- Noticeable increase in pain and stiffness during morning or night
- Tenderness, red, swollen area
- Feeling of joints grinding with movement
For more information on how you can treat your Achilles tendinitis click HERE.