Achilles Tendon Problems
The common Achilles tendon problems include Achilles tendon rupture and Achilles tendon bursitis.
Achilles Tendon Rupture
What is an Achilles Tendon Rupture?
The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous cord present behind the ankle that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is used when you walk, run and jump. The Achilles tendon ruptures most often in athletes participating in sports that involve running, pivoting and jumping. Recreational sports that may cause Achilles rupture include tennis, football, basketball and gymnastics.
What are the Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Rupture?
When the Achilles tendon ruptures, you will experience severe pain in the back of your leg above your heel, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty standing on tiptoe and moving the leg when walking. A popping or snapping sound may be heard when the injury occurs.
How is an Achilles Tendon Rupture Diagnosed?
Your doctor diagnoses the rupture based on symptoms, history of the injury and physical examination. Your doctor may also feel a gap or depression in the tendon, just above the heel bone. Your doctor will gently squeeze the calf muscles. If the Achilles tendon is intact, there will be flexion movement of the foot, if it is ruptured, there will be no movement observed.
What is the Treatment for an Achilles Tendon Rupture?
Achilles tendon rupture is treated using non-surgical methods or surgery. Non-surgical treatment involves wearing a cast or special brace which lifts your heel, allowing the tendon to heal. Surgical procedure involves opening the skin and suturing the torn tendon together. Surgery helps to decrease the recurrence of the rupture of the Achilles tendon in comparison to the non-surgical treatment. With either treatment, physical therapy is recommended to improve the strength and flexibility of the leg muscles and the Achilles tendon.
How do you Prevent an Achilles Tendon Rupture?
To help prevent an Achilles tendon injury, it is a good practice to perform stretching and warm-up exercises before participating in any exercises or sports activities. Gradually increase the intensity and length of time of the activity. Muscle conditioning may help to strengthen the muscles in the body.
Achilles Tendon Bursitis
What is Achilles Tendon Bursitis?
Achilles tendon bursitis or retrocalcaneal bursitis is a condition that commonly occurs in athletes. It is a painful condition caused by swelling of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac which is located at the back of the heel under the Achilles tendon. This retrocalcaneal bursa contains a lubricating fluid that acts as a cushion to reduce friction between muscle and bones. The Achilles tendon is the large tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and is used when you walk, run and jump.
What are the Causes of Achilles Tendon Bursitis?
Achilles tendon bursitis is caused by overuse of the ankle which results in irritation and inflammation of the bursa. The common causes include overuse from too much walking, jumping or running. Achilles tendon bursitis can also occur in conjunction with Achilles tendinitis, inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
Children who suddenly increase their level of physical activity are at a higher risk of developing Achilles tendon bursitis.
What are the Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Bursitis?
The most common symptom is pain and tenderness at the back of the heel especially while walking or running. Pain increases when standing on tiptoes. In some cases, the skin at the back of the heel may become warm and red.
How is Achilles Tendon Bursitis Diagnosed?
Your doctor may diagnose the condition based on the symptoms and physical examination of the ankle. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be required later if the treatment does not improve the symptoms.
What are the Treatment Options for Achilles Tendon Bursitis?
The initial treatment for Achilles tendon bursitis includes:
- Restricting the activities that cause pain.
- Applying ice on the injured area which will help to reduce the swelling. Ice should be wrapped in a cloth and applied rather than directly on the skin.
- Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Using custom heel wedges to reduce stress on the heel.
- Physical therapy may be recommended which will help to restore and improve the flexibility and strength of the muscles, tendons and joints around the ankle.
- Corticosteroid injections may be injected into the bursa to reduce swelling and pain. You must ensure that your child does not over stretch the tendon after the injection as it may lead to Achilles tendon rupture.
- If retrocalcaneal bursitis is associated with Achilles tendonitis, it may be necessary to immobilize the ankle for several weeks until healing takes place. This can be done by applying a cast to the ankle, which limits ankle movement and allows the tendon to rest.
Surgery is considered only when all non-surgical treatment fails to resolve pain and inflammation. Bursectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove an inflamed or infected bursa.
How Can Achilles Tendon Bursitis Be Prevented?
Achilles tendon bursitis may be prevented by observing proper form during sports and exercise. Ensure that your child does some warm up exercises before the start of any sports activity to help prevent injury of the Achilles tendon.
- Sprained Ankle
- Achilles Tendinitis
- Ankle Arthritis
- Ankle Instability
- Ankle Fractures
- Arthritis of the Ankle
- Achilles Tendon Problems
- Heel Pain
- Ankle Stress Fractures
- Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
- Ankle Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Talus Fractures
- Vertical Talus
- Heel Spur
- Medial Gastrocnemius Strain