Disorders of the Achilles Tendon: Causes and Treatment Methods

achilles tendon

Also referred to as the heel cord, the Achilles tendon enables walking and running by helping to lift the heel off the ground. Today Dr. Hubert Lee of CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists is sharing some information regarding some of the most common disorders associated with it.

Two disorders that commonly occur in the Achilles tendon are:

  • Achilles tendonitis, which is a temporary swelling of the Achilles tendon;
  • Achilles tendonosis, which occurs when the tendon loses its structure and develops tiny tears.

Causes of Achilles Tendon Disorders

Commonly referred to as “overuse” disorders, these conditions are typically caused by a sudden increase in a repetitive activity that involves the Achilles tendon.

This type of activity places too much stress on the tendon too quickly, injuring the tendon fibers. As a result of this continuing stress on the tendon, the body can’t repair the injured tissue and the structure of the tendon is altered, resulting in ongoing pain.

Treatment for Achilles Tendon Disorders

Treatment methods for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are chosen based on how long the condition has been present and the severity of the damage. In the early stages, one or more of the following treatment options may be recommended:

  • Ice: To decrease swelling, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel (never directly on the skin) to the affected area for 20 minutes of each hour that you are awake.
  • Immobilization:This can include the use of a removable walking boot or cast to promote healing.
  • Orthotics: For those with gait abnormalities or over-pronation, custom orthotic devices may be recommended.
  • Physical therapy: This will typically include soft-tissue massage, stretching, ultrasound therapy, and exercises to strengthen the tendons.
  • Oral medications:Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, can decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Splints:Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon while sleeping.

If these non-surgical methods aren’t successful in returning the tendon to its regular condition, surgery may be recommended. Your podiatrist will perform the most effective procedure to repair the tendon, based upon the severity of the injury, your activity level, and age, in addition to other factors.

If you are experiencing pain in your Achilles tendon – don’t delay – contact the office of Dr. Hubert Lee at CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists to schedule a consultation. Call our office today at (425) 455-0936 to book your visit or schedule an appointment online.

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