When it comes to sheer strength and thickness, none of the other 4,000 or so tendons in the human body compare to the Achilles. This powerful band of tissue connects your calf muscles to your heel bone, and is critically important for all kinds of locomotion.
Yet for all its strength, the Achilles tendon is very susceptible to injury—especially among active individuals approaching (or in, or beyond) middle age. This can include inflammation, degeneration of the tissue fibers, tearing, or even a complete rupture.
Fortunately, healing damaged tendons is one of our specialties at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas.
Achilles tendon injuries and conditions include:
- Achilles tendinitis: This refers to inflammation and swelling in the tendon in response to injury. You may develop microscopic tears in the tendon due to athletic activity, which leads to swelling and pain.
- Achilles tendinosis: Often confused or conflated with tendinitis, tendinosis is not directly a result of inflammation but by degeneration and damage to the tendon on the cellular level. In addition to pain, this may weaken the tendon, making a rupture more likely.
- Achilles tendon rupture: A sudden impact could cause a more significant tear in the tendon—in severe cases it may rip completely in two. This is frequently accompanied by immediate pain and even a “popping” noise.
Treatments for an Achilles Tendon Injury
Because a healthy Achilles is such an important component for all forms of standing, walking, jumping, playing, and moving from place to play, it does you no good to ignore injury and pain. Your best choice is to seek out the Absolute Foot Care Specialists right away for treatment options.
Tendinitis and tendinosis usually don’t require surgery, but even conservative approaches can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, as well as the length of time you’ve been experiencing pain. Common approaches may include:
- The use of heel cups or custom orthotics to cushion impacts and elevate the heel during activity
- Physical therapy, stretching, and massage
- Equipment changes, such as better shoes, to help reduce force loads on your tendons
- Behavior and activity modifications, such as cross-training, incorporating more low-impact exercise into your weekly routine, and avoiding any rapid increases in the duration or intensity of your workouts
- Immobilization of the lower leg using a short cast or walking boot
- Extracorporeal pulse activation treatment (EPAT), an advanced treatment option that is especially successful for patients who have chronic pain or who need to recover as quickly as possible
Tendon ruptures can also be treated conservatively in many cases through casting, though we will often recommend a surgical repair instead. There are pros and cons to each approach, so we’ll be sure to talk with you carefully about your options and determine which makes the most sense for your unique situation.
You really can’t function the way you need to with a swollen, injured, or torn tendon, so don’t try to hobble stubbornly through the pain! Instead, make an appointment with Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas today. You can reach us at (702) 839-2010.