What and Where Is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles tendon runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle at the heel bone.The Achilles tendon aids in walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground. There are two types of disorders that will occur when you have suffered discomfort due to the strain on the muscle, they are called:
Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendonosis
Achilles tendonitis is nothing more than an inflammation of the Achilles tendon or muscle. This inflammation does not usually last very long if you take care in not aggravating the condition. However, over time, if not addressed, the condition can develop into a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonosis), in which case the tendon will loose its organized structure and is very likely to develop microscopic tears.
Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis typically are caused by a repetitive activity involving the Achilles tendon. Such as continued and aggressive athletics or exercise and walking too much or running and adding additional strain to the muscle. Such activity puts too much stress on the tendon leading to small tears in the tendon. Due to continued stress on the tendon, your body is unable to repair the injured tissue. This stress then causes pain in the back of the lower leg.
In addition, people with flattening of the arch or pronation have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis because of the greater demands placed on the tendon when walking. If these individuals wear shoes without adequate stability, their overpronation could further aggravate the Achilles tendon.
There are several methods of treatment for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis depending on how long the injury has been present and how severe the damage is to the tendon.
Immobilization may be required by the use of a cast or removable walking boot to reduce strain on the Achilles tendon and promote healing.
Ice can help reduce the swelling due to the inflammation by wrapping a bag of ice in a towel and placing it on the affected area for approximately 20 minutes for each walking hour. Do not apply ice directly against the skin.
Orthotics may be prescribed for those people that have overpronation or any obvious gait abnormalities while walking.
Night Splints may be recommended by your physician as they will help to stretch the Achilles tendon while you are sleeping helping to strengthen the muscle.
Physical therapy may also be recommended by your family physician in more severe cases. The therapy most likely will include exercises, gait and running to help in stretching and strengthening the tendon.