Achilles tendon refers to that part of your leg that connects your foot to the calf muscle via your heel bone. Achilles tendinopathy refers to problems with the Achilles tendon and covers a range of issues.
Causes of Achilles Tendinopathy
Excessive force on the tendon through several factors can cause tendinopathy. Some of the factors that can cause injury resulting in tendinopathy are calf tightness or weakness; poor foot biomechanics; injury to the area; overuse of the area; improper footwear, and any sudden changes to training or sports patterns. However, the most common cause of tendinopathy is overuse or repetitive trauma to the tendon. This could lead to a gradual breakdown in the tissues leading to chronic Achilles tendinopathy also known as tendinitis.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy
Symptoms will vary according to the severity of the damage. In strains causing Grade I and II tendinopathy, the patient will suffer from stiffness at the back of the heel combined with mild to moderate pain. Further damage could cause swelling or a small lump to form on the tendon. Grade III generally results due to a complete rupture of the tendon and can cause severe and immediate pain leading to the inability of the patient to bear any weight on that foot.
Progression of Achilles Tendinopathy
Given relief with resting, mild strains will generally become all right in a few days. However, should the mild strain last longer than two weeks, it might require some intervention. Physical therapy will be required to resolve this problem. Physical therapy and wellness clinics like Therapydia.com are the best places to help the patient recover. It is important not to ignore tendinopathy as untreated strains could lead to chronic Achilles tendinopathy.
A rupture or Grade III strain will require medical intervention in the form of either immobilization of the foot in a cast or even surgery in severe cases.
Diagnosis of Achilles Tendinopathy
A thorough assessment is done by a physiotherapist, which could include identification of the cause of the injury, analysis of muscle length and strength, checking the foot biomechanics and kinetic chain and linking them to the activity levels of the patient. In case the physiotherapist feels that there might be a rupture or tear to the tendon, the patient would be asked to undergo an ultrasound scan.
Treatment for Achilles Tendinopathy
The first step is to identify the cause of the problem in non-traumatic cases. Once the problem is identified there are numerous ways to address this issue. Physiotherapy will help improve the healing rate and reduce scar tissue formation. The patient needs to avoid activities that can impact the tendon allowing time for recovery. In mild cases, the ice application will help in managing the swelling and pain. If the patient cannot bear the pain, the doctor may advise painkillers. Problems caused due to foot biomechanics can be identified by a Gait scan and a pair of orthotics can help stop a reoccurrence of the problem.
Finally, if you feel any pain in that area, do not ignore it. Left for a long period, the problem could become severe.
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