Achilles tendon problems or Achilles tendonitis is an injury caused by the tendon that runs down the lower back of the leg when it becomes inflamed. Typically this is caused when we push our bodies too hard or fail to warm-up properly before some form of exercise - running or football for example.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis may present as: -
- Pain in a tendon which gets worse when you move
- Difficulty moving the tendon
- Feeling a grating or crackling sensation when you move the tendon
- Swelling, sometimes with heat or redness
- A lump along the tendon
Non-surgical treatments for Achilles tendonitis
You can treat mild tendon injuries yourself and should feel better within 2 to 3 weeks.
Follow the 4 steps known as RICE therapy for 2 to 3 days to help bring down swelling and support the injury:
- Rest – stop the exercise or activities that caused the injury until you feel better
- Ice – put an ice pack (you could use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
- Compress – wrap a bandage around the injury to support it
- Elevate – if possible, keep the injured area raised on a pillow when sitting or lying down
If your symptoms persist you can visit your local pharmacist or GP who can examine your symptoms further.
Surgical Treatments for Achille Tendonitis
The majority of patients with achilles tendon inflammation settle with rest, stretching and physiotherapy. For those that don’t, surgery can be of benefit. this may be to help stretch the tightness of the tendon or calf complex, to clean up the tendon, or even to transfer a different tendon to replace the achilles tendon. this would be carefully assessed by your surgeon.
Normally you will know immediately if you have strained or torn the tendon.
In the case of a strained tendon, if no improvement is made in the first 2-3 weeks of self-treatment, your GP will listen to you and physically examine the tendon. From this, they will normally be able to start treatment. If further investigation is required such as blood tests or imaging, then the results of these will lead to a diagnosis and treatment plan that may or may not require a specialist consultant.
If you have torn the tendon you should immediately go to casualty.
The cause of Achilles tendon problemstends to occur in middle age through overexertion during exercise. However, other conditions such as a high or low-arched foot can contribute towards the stress on the Achilles tendon as well as some medical conditions.
As we age we all become less flexible and the Achilles tendon is no exception developing small degenerative tears. The body attempts to repair these, but with the blood supply to the lower part being weak, tears may not fully heal. Over time and if you have a physical lifestyle, you may begin to present symptoms