Damage to the Achilles tendon can substantially reduce your quality of life. At North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists in Gainesville and Lake City, Florida, Joshua Epstein, DPM, AACFAS, FACPM, and Sarina Epstein, DPM, AACFAS, use effective, evidence-based treatments to repair injuries to the Achilles tendon. If your Achilles tendon is causing you pain, call North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists or book an appointment online now.
What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that stretches from the back of the ankle to the calf. By helping the heel lift off the ground, this tendon plays a vital role in walking and running. Damage to the Achilles tendon doesn’t just cause pain. It can also reduce the level of flexibility in your foot and ankle. As a result, you may develop limited mobility.
What causes Achilles tendon pain?
There are three primary causes of Achilles tendon pain:
Tendonitis and tendonosis
Tendonitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the Achilles tendon. It typically stems from overuse. Sports like running, basketball, and soccer can all increase your risk of tendonitis. While this inflammation typically heals on its own, it doesn’t always.
Tendonitis that doesn’t heal properly can lead to tendonosis, which causes small tears in the tendon. The tendon itself also starts losing its natural structure and can amplify your pain.
An Achilles rupture is a partial or complete tear of the Achilles tendon. The pain with a tendon rupture is typically sudden or excruciating. You may not feel comfortable bearing weight on the affected foot.
Achilles ruptures are serious medical concerns that require immediate treatment. You may need to seek emergency care in addition to visiting a foot and ankle surgeon at North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists.
How are Achilles tendon disorders diagnosed?
Diagnosing an Achilles tendon disorder requires a complete exam of your foot and ankle, as well as a review of your medical history. Your foot and ankle surgeon asks questions regarding your symptoms and lifestyle before diagnosing your condition. If you are an athlete or regularly participate in cardio activities, like running, an Achilles tendon diagnosis is likely.
To better assess your condition and evaluate the extent of damage to the tendon, your podiatrist may order imaging scans, such as X-rays.
What are the treatments for Achilles tendon disorders?
Treatment for Achilles tendon disorders typically depends on your condition. Your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend a combination of treatments, such as:
Rest and ice
Elevating your foot and icing the tendon helps reduce pain and swelling to promote proper healing.
If you have a tendon rupture or an advanced case of tendonitis, your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend immobilizing the foot and ankle with a cast or brace or using a night splint.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help minimize pain and inflammation while your Achilles tendon heals.
Orthotics are custom-made devices that fit in your shoes and mold to the shape of your foot. They cushion and support the foot to correct imbalances.
Physical therapy combines targeted exercises, stretches, and other hands-on treatments to relieve pain and restore function in the Achilles tendon.
Cortisone injections directly into the Achilles tendon allow swelling to subside and reduce pain.
Surgery is sometimes necessary to fully repair the Achilles tendon and prevent reinjury. These procedures are typically best when non-surgical treatments haven’t reduced your pain.
To learn more about Achilles tendon conditions, call North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists or book an appointment online now.