By Dr. Amit Shridhar, Orthopaedics
The Achilles tendon is one of the longest tendons of the human body, which binds the calf muscles to the bones of the heel. Intense pressure put on the Achilles tendon as a result of extreme physical activities such as running or jumping might lead to extremely painful tendon inflammation thus, causing permanent ruptures in the tendon. This condition is referred to as Achilles tendinitis. Although more common in athletes or runners, it might also affect middle-aged people who play sports, such as tennis or squash occasionally. If diagnosed in the early stages, Achilles tendinitis can be easily treated by domestic treatment. But recurring pain might lead to permanent damage of the tendons; hence, surgery or prescribed dosage of medication is recommended.
The causes of Achilles tendinitis are listed below:
1. Wearing high heels puts a lot of stress on the Achilles tendon
2. Engaging in fitness exercises without any proper regimented schedule
3. Sustaining repeated injuries in the calf muscles during any extreme physical activity such as running, gymnastics, dancing, football and tennis might lead to tendinitis
4. Suddenly increasing your workout level too quickly can also cause a sudden stress on the tendons
The symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include:
1. A sensation of intense pain and sudden enlargement especially at the rear portions of the heel, while you are walking or running
2. The skin adjacent to the heel bone feels abnormally warm
3. The calf muscles become too tight to move
Achilles tendon can be cured if treated in its early stages. The treatments recommended by the doctors are:
1. Repeated sessions of physiotherapy and prescribed dosages of steroid injections.
2. Wearing shoes or braces which might restrict the movement of the heels
3. Applying ice to the injured area
4. Wearing shoes with built-in heel might prevent the stress put on the tendons
5. Gentle stretching of the calf muscles
Achilles tendinitis can also be prevented if one can combine intense physical exercise with not-so-intense ones such as swimming and running. This ensures that the tendons are not subjected to too much stress. With a proper fitness regime, you can slowly elevate the workout level.