• What Is?
  • Causes
  • Treatment

What Is the Achilles Tendon?

The achilles tendon otherwise known as the tendon calcaneus, is a tendon made up of a large band of fibrous tissue located on lower 1/3 of the posterior leg at the back of the ankle. This tendon is a conjoined tendon of two powerful calf muscles, ie. the gastrocnemious and soleus that inserts to the heel bone or calcaneus. It is the largest tendon in the human body. When the calf muscles tighten or contract, the Achilles tendon then pulls on the heel. This action allows you to point your foot as well as stand on your tiptoes. It is a vital component to various activities such as walking, running, and jumping.

Conditions: There are two common conditions that affect the achilles tendon. These conditions include achilles tendonitis and achilles tendonosis.

 
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Causes

Achilles tendon rupture. As we get older the Achilles tendon looses vascularity and can weaken with age and make it prone to rupture. However it is important to note that chronic inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, steroid use, and antibiotic use can also increase the risk of rupture. Rupture usually occurs about 2cm from the insertion point in the calcaneous or heel. This is called the water shed area and is thought to be the weakest point of the tendon. The tendon more commonly completely ruptures than partially tears. Most ruptures occur in the occasional athlete during recreation activities. However, ruptures can be caused by sudden forceful movements that may over stretch the tendon.

Achilles tendonitis. This condition is caused from inflammation of the Achilles tendon usually caused from an increase in activity and repetitive over-use. Symptoms include a gradual onset of pain. Pain at the beginning of an exercise which then fades as the exercise progresses. Pain ceases with rest and there is tenderness on palpation

Achilles tendonosis. This is the degeneration of the tendon caused by chronic unresolved inflammation (Achilles tendonitis) where the degenerative tendon fibers become less organized and more fibrous which can lead to tears in the tendon or complete rupture.

Treatment

There are many ways to treat the conditions of the Achilles tendon that include:
(Seeing a doctor to make the correct diagnosis for your condition)

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy
  • Refraining and resting from the aggravating activity
  • Cold therapy
  • Wearing a heel lift to take the strain off the Achilles tendon
  • Wearing the appropriate shoes for your foot type and athletic activity
  • Using anti-inflammatories recommended or prescribed from your doctor
  • Changing your training methods
  • The use of custom molded orthotics
  • Taping and strapping
  • Going to prescribed physical therapy
  • and even steroid injection therapy
If the pain of the achilles tendon persists from the above conditions a scan with an MRI and surgery will be recommended especially if all conservative treatments have failed or there is a rupture.
 
If you are experiencing Achilles Tendon pain please visit any of our five locations, Savannah, Hinesville, Statesboro, Claxton, or Bluffton and speak with our podiatrists to create a treatment plan perfectly suited to you and your needs.

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