Achilles Tendon & Injuries
The Achilles tendon is a tough, yet springy, band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. This tendon serves to help you point your toes and raise up on your tiptoes. When the calf muscles flex, the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel. This movement allows us to stand on our toes when walking, running, or jumping. Despite its strength, the Achilles tendon is vulnerable to injury, due to high tensions and limited blood flow.
Some of the major injuries of this tendon include:
- Achilles tendon tear: Tears can result in pain, swelling, and impaired movement. They may occur suddenly during activity, or gradually over time. Treatment can be more conservative with tears vs. ruptures.
- Achilles tendon rupture: A complete rupture of the Achilles tendon may make a "pop" sound, followed by pain and swelling of the lower leg. Treating an Achilles tendon rupture requires surgery or long-term immobilization of the ankle.
- Achilles tendinitis (tendonitis): Gradual inflammation at the end of the Achilles tendon from frequent activity (running or walking) can cause pain and stiffness at the back of the heel. Rest, ice, and stretching may speed healing, which can take weeks.
Signs and Symptoms:
Tears and Ruptures vary in degrees of severity, but often symptoms include:
- The feeling of having been kicked in the calf
- A popping or snapping sound when the injury occurs
- Pain, from mild to severe, and swelling near the heel
- An inability to bend the foot downward or "push off" the injured leg when walking
- An inability to stand on the toes on the injured leg
Tendonitis symptoms include:
- Mild ache in the back of the leg after activity
- Episodes of more severe pain after prolonged activity
- Stiffness or tenderness especially in the morning which improves with regular movement throughout the day
Tendonitis can be a precursor for tears and ruptures. Seek treatment options if you feel you have symptoms matching the above described to maintain the health of your Achilles tendon.
Non-Operative Orthopaedic Specialists
Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Specialists
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Columbia, Missouri 65201
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