The skeleton gives your body a frame and your muscles move that frame around—but movement would be impossible if you didn’t have strong connective tissues. Your tendons are ropes of tough tissue that act like cables between your muscles and bones. Supporting the strain of movement, however, makes them vulnerable to injuries. Issues like Achilles tendon problems can severely limit your mobility.
Straining the Main Mover
One of the biggest and strongest connective tissues in your body is your Achilles tendon. It attaches your calf muscle to the back of your heel bone and makes pointing your foot downward or rising up on the ball of your foot possible. It’s also the main mover that allows you to push off the ground when you take a step. Because of this, it absorbs a significant amount of stress and pressure, making it prone to injuries and irritation.
The most common Achilles tendon problems include tendonitis, tissue rupture, and bursitis. Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury, usually resulting from suddenly increasing the intensity or duration of your exercise routines or athletic activities. The repetitive strain, especially if your calf muscles are tight, irritates the tissue and causes inflammation and thickening.
A rupture is a complete tear in the tendon. This usually results from a traumatic injury, though chronic inflammation in the heel can weaken the tissue and make it more prone to tears. Your Achilles can only stretch a certain length—if a hard landing or sudden force pulls it beyond that point, the tissue snaps. You feel a sharp, immediate pain and weakness in the back of your foot.
Heel bursitis, or retrocalcaneal bursitis, is inflammation in the protective bursa that sits between your tendon and your heel bone. Repeatedly straining the Achilles irritates this fluid-filled sac and causes uncomfortable swelling. The more you use the affected foot, the worse your heel will feel.
Achilles tendon – Restoring Foot Strength
All of these Achilles problems can be treated, though the key to doing so quickly and successfully is to address the issue early. The longer any of these conditions is allowed to fester, the worse it becomes. Eventually, the issues may cause chronic weakness and instability. However, conservative management can help your lower limbs recover and regain their full strength.
Our doctors will evaluate your feet and ankles to diagnose the specific condition that is causing your pain. Our expert physicians will use diagnostic images or other tests to rule out culprits and identify the real problem. After that, we can help you begin an appropriate therapy.
Rest is one of the most important factors in recovery. You will need to take a break from any hard-impact activities and minimize the pressure put on your affected foot. In some cases, you may need to have your foot immobilized to prevent additional damage from movement. Icing the heel can help reduce irritation and swelling, as well as relieve some discomfort. Elevating your foot will help as well. If your pain is persistent, we may recommend anti-inflammatory pain medication. Physical therapy to relax the tissues and improve tendon strength also benefits your lower limbs, especially as you return to your activities.
In some cases, conservative therapies may not be enough. Some conditions do not respond to these methods. In the case of a total Achilles rupture, the injury will not completely heal solely with noninvasive treatments. A procedure to repair the tendon will be necessary to repair the damage.
If you’re struggling with pain or weakness along the back of the foot, you may have developed an Achilles tendon problem. These conditions can be remedied using conservative therapies, but they do need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until surgery is your only option to heal. Instead, request an appointment with us at Country Foot Care. Appointments can be made online using the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page or by calling either of our offices and speaking with a member of our staff.