Achilles Tendon Injuries

Achilles tendon location

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What Is The Achilles Tendon?

The role of connective tissues is to provide the glue that binds together the various other types of tissues, organs and structures in the body. Tendons are a form of connective tissue. They are tough bands of fibrous connective tissue that help to link together muscles and bones. The Achilles tendon or the calcaneal tendon is the one that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone in the foot. In fact, it is the largest such tendon in the human body.

Run your fingers along the back of your foot and lower leg, and you will be able to clearly feel this tough but flexible band of tissue. The interface between this tendon and the calcaneus or heel bone is cushioned by a lubricating structure known as a bursa. One of the functions of the Achilles tendon is to enable you to point your feet. This posture is called plantar flexion.

 

What Are Achilles Tendon Injuries?

Achilles tendon locationWhen you walk, run or jump, there is a great deal of stress being placed upon the Achilles tendon.

When this pressure becomes excessive, or as a result of enduring stress over a longer term, the Achilles tendon may become weakened and develop ruptures or even outright tears. Athletes, in particular, must take care to avoid such injuries.

However, it can happen to others too as a result of accidental injuries or when one attempts a physically strenuous activity without adequately conditioning the body first. In fact, even the habit of wearing high heels on a regular basis puts you at risk of hurting your Achilles tendon. Such injuries are common and sometimes the resultant pain can be quite severe. If you have such an injury, seek medical help immediately.

 

What Causes Achilles Tendon Injuries?

Generally, there is a tendency to injure the Achilles tendon when you put great stress on it. Gymnasts, marathon runners, sprinters, dancers, and sportsmen and women in particular are prone to developing this kind of injury. This is because their movements often speed up or slow down suddenly, there may be sudden jumps and harsh landings and there may even be quick turns. All of these actions put pressure on the Achilles tendon and can weaken or even damage it.

Even if you aren’t an athlete, dancer or sportsman, you should take care to properly warm up your body before attempting advanced physical exercise. It’s always best to work up strength, flexibility and endurance step by step and give your body some time to adapt to the exercise. Inadequate conditioning before taking on challenging physical activities is the perfect recipe for injuries.

Additionally, if you are accustomed to wearing high heels, this can be a risk factor for Achilles tendon injuries too. Wearing high heels for long stretches of time on a daily basis is proven to raise the risk of developing lower back pain, heel pain, foot deformities such as bunions or conditions such as metatarsalgia. Heeled footwear forces your feet and your spine into an unnatural posture, disturbing the normal distribution of weight. As a result, there is additional stress being placed on your Achilles tendon as well.

Those who are flat footed also have a greater risk of developing such injuries. Again, this has to do with the distribution of weight. The natural arches in the soles of our feet help to support and distribute the weight of our bodies in a healthy manner. Those with fallen arches or flat feet do not have this feature; hence, there is a greater than normal likelihood of developing injuries.

Sometimes steroid injections administered to the lower leg, particularly the ankle, can end up weakening the Achilles tendon, increasing the risk of ruptures. In other cases, age-related degeneration can also weaken the tendon enough to give way under stress.

 

What Does It Feel Like?

Achilles tendon examinationA rupture in the Achilles tendon may be described as either partial or complete. Either kind can be painful. The pain is felt in the area above your heel. You may notice that it is more intense when you point your feet or stand on your tiptoes. There may be some amount of bruising, swelling, tenderness and stiffness. Similar symptoms may be noticed when you have inflammation in the Achilles tendon. That condition is known as tendinitis and although it can be painful and uncomfortable, the pain is typically less severe as compared to that of a rupture or tear in the tendon.

Sometimes, the tendon ruptures or tears with an audible snap and sudden, sharp burst of pain. Most likely, you will be unable to put weight on the leg that has been injured. You will be unable to walk normally. In fact, it is best not to put any weight on that leg since that will only make your injury worse. It is quite possible, though, that you may have no noticeable pain at the time that the injury occurs.

 

What Should Be Done About It?

Achilles tendon surgeryAs soon as you notice the injury or the pain, find a comfortable position and take care not to put any pressure or weight on the injured area. Seek help to get to a hospital or an orthopaedic surgeon as soon as possible, especially if you have developed a complete rupture. The doctor or surgeon will be better able to diagnose the nature of the injury if you can recall and describe exactly how and when it occurred.

A physical examination may be followed by imaging tests in order to visualise the extent of the damage. Depending on the extent of the injury and other parameters such as the general health condition and age of the patient, the patient may undergo either surgical or non-surgical treatment, Surgery for the repair of the Achilles tendon involves sewing its ruptured ends together. Alternatively, the patient may need a tissue graft.

Following surgery, the patient will require to wear a brace or use crutches to keep weight off the injured leg. Physiotherapy is recommended for rehabilitation. Full recovery tends to take about six weeks or more. Athletes and sportsmen may be advised to rest and not return to their game for anywhere between 6 months and a year depending on the rate of recovery.

 

Should I Be Concerned About Complications?

As with any injury and surgical procedure, there is always the risk that the injury may not heal sufficiently or that infections may develop at the site. Once you have suffered a rupture in the Achilles tendon, there is a higher risk of it recurring. In fact, patients who have opted for conservative treatment face a greater risk of a repeat injury as compared to those who opt for surgical repair. There is also the risk of a blood clot forming at the site of the injury.

 

Preventive measures

Achilles tendon injuries are common, particularly among sportsmen. If you are a professional athlete, gymnast or sportsperson, you should remain aware of the risks and train accordingly. Do not suddenly intensify your game or your performance without first preparing your body for it. Inclusion of a warm-up slot before exercising which mainly focuses of stretching the calf muscles, always easing into a new exercising regime instead of suddenly intensifying it and choosing proper footwear which markedly cushions the heel and arch-support, can all be profoundly effective in keeping this malady at bay. Combining high and low impact activities such as tennis and swimming can also reduce the continued stress on the tendons and further prevent the tendinitis. In case of reducing the heel height of shoes, decreasing the height gradually is the logical method for preventing Achilles Tendinitis.

Facts

  • Three-quarters of all Achilles tendonitis injuries are caused during sporting activities, mostly the ones which require repetitive jumping and running.
  • 1 out of every 4 cases of Achilles tendonitis requires surgery. 20% of these individuals require a repeat surgery.

Facts

  • Bone growth occurs in case of Insertional Achilles tendonitis. This occurs at the point where the tendon attaches itself to the heel.
  • Exercising/ playing outdoor sports in cold climates or hilly areas also increase the likelihood of damaging the Achilles tendon.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Apply the RICER protocol – rest, ice, compression, elevation, and referral for 48-72 hours post injury.
  • Always perform stretching up exercises before beginning your exercise routine. It is important to warm up and cool down properly to avoid sudden jerks to the feet.
  • Use orthotic insoles which provide proper cushioning to the feet.
Don'ts
  • Continue any physical activity that puts a strain the damaged Achilles tendon. Never run /play through the pain.
  • Delay the treatment for the condition. Seek immediate medical help as soon as the pain develops to avoid further wear and tear.

 

 

 

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Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
Ear pain model
Easy and safe tips for ear wax removal you can do at home Cerumen impaction generally occurs when an external object like cotton swabs are used to remove the ear wax.…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
Valerian Root: The best way to achieve tranquil sleep every night Valerian root is probably one of the oldest and safest way to cure your insomnia. Find out how…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
PROGESTERONE_test
Progesterone test The progesterone test is a blood test used to determine the level of hormone progesterone in the blood…
lithium test
Lithium test A lithium test is a blood test that is used to diagnose conditions of acute and chronic lithium…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
BULIMIA NERVOSA vomiting
Can you get addicted to food? Learn everything about food addiction What is food addiction? How can people get addicted to eating? Is it an unhealthy eating habit or…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Psyllium Husk: More than just an effective natural laxative Psyllium husk, or isabgol, is a popular natural laxative . But did you in addition to regulating bowels,…
How can berberine supplements help you live longer and healthier? Berberine is a turmeric look-alike herbal extract that is credited with numerous health benefits ranging from diabetes cure…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Bone marrow aspiration Bone marrow aspiration is a process where a sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn from the bone…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
cystatin C
Cystatin C Test Cystatin C is a specific single-chain protein that is found in body fluids and is a biomarker for…
Diabetes blood test
Diabetic Profile The diabetic profile is a set of tests used for testing and monitoring the various kinds of Diabetes…
piles,fistula,fissures
Difference between piles, fissures, and fistula Click to know the difference between piles, fistula and fissure and the best ways to get effective treatment…
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
quinoa salad
Quinoa : A prodigious superfood you need to include in your diet today! Quinoa - what is so special about this native South American grain that has taken the world by…