The Achilles tendon is the thick fibrous band of tissue that connects the two large muscles of the calf to the back of the heel. It plays a pivotal role in movement of the body, aiding in walking, running and jumping. Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition in which the tendon becomes inflamed and swollen. Tendonitis can occur from arthritis or it can develop from a sudden increase in activity, running too often, overextension, and/or wearing shoes without the proper support. Sufferers of Achilles tendonitis report symptoms of stiffness, pain to the touch, swelling, and pain while standing forward on the toes. When the Achilles tendon completely ruptures, surgery is necessary.
A brace, boot or cast may be prescribed to immobilize the heel and tendon in order to reduce pain and swelling. Genesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine may also advise the use of special orthotic inserts put in the shoe to lift the heel or the purchase of shoes with a softer cushion in the heel area.
Physical therapy is an effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis. Simple stretching throughout the day will contribute to the healing process. Physical therapy is prescribed for both mild forms of tendonitis to strengthen the tendon and as a post-surgery option.
Surgery may be required if the tendon becomes torn or if all other treatment options have failed. During surgery, the Achilles tendon is reattached. Depending on the severity of the condition, other tendons may be used to reinforce the repair. Recovery time varies, and other post-operative treatment options, such as physical therapy, may be prescribed.