The achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body that stretches from calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is an injury that is caused by overuse of this tendon, and it occurs most commonly in runners who increase the intensity and duration of their runs suddenly without proper build-up. In addition, middle-aged people who play sports might also experience this condition, since the structure of the tendon often becomes weaker as people age, making it more susceptible to injuries.
There are two main types of achilles tendinitis:
Symptoms of achilles tendinitis include:
If you hear a sudden snapping or popping sound, you may have ruptured or torn your tendon. In this case, please see your doctor immediately for medical attention.
Achilles tendinitis is often not related to trauma, but is instead caused by the repetitive overuse and stress placed on the tendon. More specifically, the following situations might cause achilles tendinitis:
A sudden increase in intensity and duration of physical activity
While the pain experienced at first may be bearable, if achilles tendinitis goes untreated, the patient is likely to experience chronic pain and the tendon might rupture. This might cause the range of motion of the ankle and foot to be significantly reduced.
If your doctor suspects that you might have achilles tendinitis, he or she might use diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and MRI scans to confirm the diagnosis.
Using X-rays, your doctor will be able to identify if the lower area of the tendon has calcified (become hardened), as the presence of this calcification would indicate achilles tendinitis.
MRI scans are typically used only when confirming the precise location and extent of the tendon damage in preparation for surgery.
If you suspect yourself or someone you know might have achilles tendinitis, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid any serious and severe injuries. There are several treatment methods for achilles tendinitis, which can be largely divided into non-surgical treatment options and surgical treatment options.
Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (RICE)
In the event that the achilles tendon is torn or ruptured, or the pain does not improve even after six months of treatment, your doctor might recommend surgery. There are various forms and surgical procedures used, which typically depend on the extent and location of tendon damage, as well as the age of the patient. The various surgical options can be summarised below:
The duration of recovery needed by a patient would largely depend on the extent of damage to the tendon. The greater the extent of tendon damage, the longer the time the patient would require to recover from the surgery. Your doctor might refer you to a physiotherapist for physical therapy, which is a vital part of recovery. Through regular physiotherapy for around 3 to 6 months after the surgery or treatment, the range of mobility of the ankle will be slowly increased, and the pain experienced by the patient will also gradually subside.
For assessment of your condition, please book an appointment with Dr Yong Ren.