Achilles Tendon Problems
A tendon is a structure that is made up completely of highly organized collagen strands that connects a muscle to bone. Although any tendon in the body is susceptible to injury, the Achilles’ tendon happens to be the one that is injured most often.
What is the Achilles’ Tendon?
The Achilles’ tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. The Achilles’ tendon actually connects your calf muscle in the back of your leg to the back of your heel bone in your foot. You can easily feel the Achilles’ tendon, which is the firm, tight heel cord just above the heel bone behind your ankle. If you squeeze your hand along the tendon and move up the back of your leg toward your knee, you can feel where it blends into the calf muscle. Your Achilles’ tendon makes it possible for you to stand up on your toes when your calf muscle contracts. It also allows you to balance when you walk and push off when you run.
What is Achilles’ Tendonitis?
Achilles tendinitis is inflammation within the tendon itself. Achilles tendinitis can occur anywhere within the tendon, all the way from the heel bone up to the calf muscle. However, most often the Achilles tendinitis occurs in a specific area just above the heel bone. This area, where the tendon is easiest to feel with your hand, happens to have decreased blood flow as compared to the rest of the tendon. For this reason, an overused tendon may become weaker, inflamed and injured in this area.
Fortunately, in the majority of cases Achilles tendinitis is short lived. It may begin with a small injury or particularly strenuous workout. However, runners, triathletes and other active athletes will often continue to exercise, in spite of the pain. When this occurs, a normal inflammatory response that is supposed to cause healing in the tendon can backfire. When chronic inflammation of the Achilles’ tendon begins, the inflammatory cells can actually cause damage within the tendon and degenerate the collagen that makes up the substance of the heel cord. This degeneration of the Achilles’ tendon is referred to by doctors as Achilles’ tendonosis.
What Causes Aachilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendinitis is not really a condition that affects couch potatoes. In general, Achilles tendinitis is an over-use problem. It is common in people who exercise vigorously and continuously. When Achilles tendinitis starts to develop, there is often a sudden increase in either the duration or intensity of activity. This happens frequently in marathon runners to start a new marathon training program and bump up their mileage. It is also common in triathletes that progress from the Olympic distance to Ironman distance events. It is also seen in otherwise sedentary individuals who began a seasonal basketball league. Cyclists who take up a new intense spring cycling training program (particularly with lots of hill climbing) are also susceptible. While Achilles tendonitis is mostly caused by activity, there are other factors that can put you at risk of Achilles tendon injury. Some medications can weaken the tendon and increase the risk of Achilles tendon injury and ruptures (complete tear).
Call today at 586-228-1500 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clark at Macomb Spine Care. We look forward to helping you achieve optimum wellness, eliminate pain and feel better.