While those who participate in certain activities like dance, gymnastics, and other running and jumping sports may have a higher risk of Achilles tendon injuries, anyone can be affected. Damage to the tendon can occur through acute injury or chronic irritation.

Only severe injuries with torn tendons require surgery. Minor and moderate Achilles injuries can heal on their own. Home care and medical treatment can speed your recovery. As sports medicine specialists, the team at Joint Regeneration is your first call when you suffer an Achilles tendon injury.

The role of the Achilles tendon

The largest and strongest tendons in your body, these tissue bands have an average length of about six inches and connect the heel bone to your calf muscles. You use the Achilles tendons anytime you walk, run, jump, climb stairs, or stand on your toes.

While Achilles tendons can withstand forces that equal about four times your body weight, it’s easy to exceed this capacity. About one in four athletes suffer Achilles tendon injuries at some point in their lives.

Warning signs that you’ve injured your Achilles tendon

An Achilles tendon rupture usually occurs during an acute injury. Tendon fibers are partially or fully torn, often accompanied by a popping sound. The cause of the injury is likely obvious, following an awkward movement or accident. Pain is sharp and sudden, and it requires immediate medical evaluation and treatment.

Achilles tendinitis is a more common condition caused by repeated strains that cause micro-tears to tendon fibers. There are two primary types of tendinitis:

  • Insertional Achilles tendinitis: occurs at the point where the tendon inserts into the heel bone and could cause bone spurs
  • Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis: micro-tears occur in the middle of the tendon’s length

Insertional tendinitis can affect anyone, regardless of activity level, while the non-insertional type tends to affect young, active adults. Warning signs for tendinitis include:

  • Pain near your heel or down the back of your leg
  • Your Achilles tendon is stiff and sore in the morning
  • Pain increases as you are more active
  • Pain the day after exercise or exertion
  • Reduced flexibility at the ankle
  • Swelling of the ankle or lower leg that gets worse with activity
  • Thickening of tendon tissue
  • Formation of bone spurs

Achilles tendon injuries are sometimes misdiagnosed as ankle sprains.

Home care for Achilles tendon injuries

Mild to moderate tendon injuries respond well to home care. Start with over-the-counter pain relievers to address discomfort and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and naproxen to help manage swelling.

Rest and ice come next. Elevate the foot when possible and limit ice packs to 15-minute intervals several times daily. Minimize activities that create impact or strain on the affected tendon. Swimming helps you to stay active without adding stress to your injury.

If home care produces few or slow results, contact Joint Regeneration of Lake Oconee, by phone or online, to add conservative medical care to your recovery plan. Full recovery is key to avoiding future Achilles tendon injuries. Get the process started today.

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