Disorders of the Achilles Tendon: Causes and Treatment Methods

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.

Wondering Why Your Heel Hurts?

Unfortunately, heel pain is quite common, but many people make the mistake of thinking that it’s a normal condition. In reality, heel pain is an indication of a problem that should not be neglected. The key to relieving heel pain is pinpointing the problem so it can be dealt with properly. Dr. Hubert Lee with CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists is here to help.

When dealing with heel pain, the underlying issue could be any of the following:

  • Plantar fasciitis: If your heel pain is sharp and intense following extended periods of rest, especially first thing in the morning, you probably have a case of plantar fasciitis. This condition is the most common cause of heel pain in adults.
  • Achilles tendinitis: If the pain is felt in the upper back part of the heel and is caused by an overworked Achilles tendon that has become inflamed, you are probably suffering from Achilles tendinitis. This is another very common cause of heel pain.
  • Sever’s disease: When children – especially adolescents – complain of heel pain, Sever’s is often the problem. This is a condition caused by differences in growth rates of the heel bone and Achilles tendon.
  • Haglund’s deformity: Footwear that is too tight can lead to an array of problems, including Haglund’s deformity. In this case, a visible bump will appear on the back of the heel, and pain is felt where the Achilles joins the heel bone.
  • Heel spur: Calcium deposits can build up and turn into a bone spur. When this occurs on the bottom of the foot, it is called a heel spur and it sometimes accompanies plantar fasciitis.
  • There are several small, fluid-filled sacs known as bursae used for cushioning in our body. When one of these sacs is in the heel and it becomes inflamed, it is known as bursitis.

Don’t make the mistake of neglecting the pain in your heel, thinking it will just go away. It could be the symptom of something much more serious. Trust the expert, Dr. Hubert Lee with CarePlus Foot & Ankle Specialists in Bellevue, WA to determine what is causing your heel pain and provide a solution. Contact us today for an appointment.