Achilles-tendinitis is characterized by inflammation and pain at the Achilles tendon (back of the ankle). This tendon, sometimes called the heel cord, is the tendon attachment of the calf muscles
from the leg and knee to the heel. This structure is important in standing on your toes or in the pushing-off phase of walking, running, or jumping.Achilles-tendinitis is usually a grade 1 or 2
strain of the tendon. A grade 1 strain is a mild strain. There is a slight pull of the tendon without obvious tendon tearing. (There is microscopic tendon tearing.) There is no loss of strength, and
the tendon is the correct length. A grade 2 strain is a moderate strain. There is tearing of tendon fibers within the substance of the tendon or where the tendon attaches to muscle or bone. The
length of the tendon or whole muscle-tendon-bone unit is increased, and there is usually decreased strength. A grade 3 strain is a complete rupture of the tendon.
There are hundreds of tendons scattered throughout our body, but it tends to be a small handful of specific tendons that cause problems. These tendons usually have an area of poor blood supply that
leads to tissue damage and poor healing response. This area of a tendon that is prone to injury is called a "watershed zone," an area when the blood supply to the tendon is weakest. In these
watershed zones, they body has a hard time delivering oxygen and nutrients necessary for tendon healing, that's why we see common tendon problems in the same parts of the body. Tendonitis is most
often an overuse injury. Often people begin a new activity or exercise that causes the tendon to become irritated. Tendon problems are most common in the 40-60 year old age range. Tendons are not as
elastic and forgiving as in younger individuals, yet bodies are still exerting with the same force. Occasionally, there is an anatomical cause for tendonitis. If the tendon does not have a smooth
path to glide along, it will be more likely to become irritated and inflamed. In these unusual situations, surgical treatment may be necessary to realign the tendon.
The primary symptom of Achilles tendon inflammation is pain in the back of the heel, which initially increases when exercise is begun and often lessens as exercise continues. A complete tear of the
Achilles tendon typically occurs with a sudden forceful change in direction when running or playing tennis and is often accompanied by a sensation of having been struck in the back of the ankle and
calf with an object such as a baseball bat.
In diagnosing Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, the surgeon will examine the patient?s foot and ankle and evaluate the range of motion and condition of the tendon. The extent of the condition can be
further assessed with x-rays or other imaging modalities.
Make sure that the tendon is not torn through and through. If it is severed, you must see a doctor immediately so that the tendon can be repaired. Severe injuries can sever a tendon, without a skin
laceration being present. Testing involves moving the toes and foot to see if the tendon moves. If the tendon does not appear to move, it may be severed (comparing the injured tendon and its movement
to the same tendon on the uninjured foot may help). Very sharp pain, a sudden pop, or an obvious gap in the structure of the tendon are all signs of a rupture, and should be seen by a doctor as soon
as possible. If there is extreme swelling of the leg, and pain (out of proportion to the amount of trauma received), you may have sustained a vascular injury. A doctor must see this type of injury
immediately. If you are not sure, see a doctor. If you have multiple injured areas see a doctor immediately, in order to prevent excessive swelling and pain. If the above exam is negative, then you
may proceed with self-treatment. (However, if you are not sure of the extent of your injury, you should consult your doctor immediately). The sooner you begin to treat your injury by following
"R.I.C.E.", the better you will feel. Rest is very important. Take off your shoe, get off your feet, and relax. Ice should be applied as soon as possible. Never apply ice directly on the injured
area, as the cold may make the pain worse. Ice should be applied close to the injured site, between the heart and the injury, so that as the blood flows under the ice, it will be cooled. This cool
blood flowing into the injured area will help to reduce the swelling and pain. Apply the ice, wrapped in a cloth or over an elastic bandage, to the foot for 15 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for up to 3
days after an injury. If the ice is uncomfortable, or causes increased pain, do not continue to use it, and see a doctor. If you have poor circulation do not use ice, as this may cause a serious
problem. c. Compression is used to limit swelling, and to give support to the injured area. Compression should be applied to the entire foot, starting first at the toes and working back to the ankle.
If it is applied just to the injured area, increased swelling will occur in front and behind the wrapping. Compression should be applied with a 3-inch elastic bandage, beginning around the base of
all the toes, and then going around the foot and ankle. Continue over the calf muscle when possible. Compression reduces motion in the injured area and foot, and this decreases the pain, and allows
for quicker healing. The bandage should not be so tight that it causes increased pain or throbbing in the toes or foot. It should be comfortable! Do not remove the elastic bandage for the first 12
hours, unless it becomes too tight, or the pain increases, or the toes become pale, blue, or cool. If any of these things happen, immediately remove all bandages, and leave them off for several
hours. The normal color and temperature of the toes should return immediately. If not, see a doctor immediately! Continue until the swelling and pain subsides; it could take from several days to
several weeks. d. Elevation of the leg will aid in reducing swelling and pain. Blood rushes to an injured area to bring increased blood cells, that aid in healing. Gravity will also force blood to
the injured area. Too many cells and too much fluid will apply pressure to the injured nerves and tissues, and cause increased pain and delayed healing. Keep your foot elevated so that it is at least
parallel to the ground, or higher if it is comfortable. Do this for at least 48 hours, or until the throbbing subsides, when you lower the leg.
Chronic Achilles tendon tears can be more complicated to repair. A tendon that has torn and retracted (pulled back) into the leg will scar in the shortened position over time. Restoring normal tendon
length is usually not an issue when surgery is performed within a few weeks of the injury. However, when there has been a delay of months or longer, the treatment can be more complicated. Several
procedures can be used to add length to a chronic Achilles tear. A turndown procedure uses tissue folded down from the top of the calf to add length to the Achilles tendon. Tendon transfers from
other tendons of the ankle can also be performed to help restore function of the Achilles. The results of surgery in a chronic situation are seldom as good as an acute repair. However, in some
patients, these procedures can help restore function of a chronically damaged Achilles.
A 2014 study looked at the effect of using foot orthotics on the Achilles tendon. The researchers found that running with foot orthotics resulted in a significant decrease in Achilles tendon load
compared to running without orthotics. This study indicates that foot orthoses may act to reduce the incidence of chronic Achilles tendon pathologies in runners by reducing stress on the Achilles
tendon1. Orthotics seem to reduce load on the Achilles tendon by reducing excessive pronation,