What causes achilles tendon pain?
The Achilles tendon is one of the longest tendons in your body. It starts at your calf muscle and extends to the back of your heel. A tendon by definition acts on a joint. For example your patellar tendon acts to extend your knee for activities such as kicking a ball. Your Achilles tendon acts to extend your ankle for activities such as jumping. When a tendon is stretched beyond it’s tolerance this known as a strain. This is different than a sprain, which involves a ligament. If the Achilles is stretched even further this can lead to a tear. This is a serious injury which, depending on severity could necessitate surgical repair. If Achilles injuries go untreated this can lead to tendonosis which is a chronic thickening of the tendon. This thickening causes weakening and possible tearing of the tendon.
What are the symptoms of an achilles sprain or tear?
Achilles strains and tears usually occur several inches above the back of the heel. When one experiences an Achilles strain there is usually pain and swelling involved. In the case of an Achilles tear, this usually makes it difficult if not impossible to walk. When an Achilles tendon is torn one may hear or feel a “pop”. In either case if you should experience pain and swelling behind the ankle you should either go to your local emergency room or call your Podiatrist for an appointment within 24 hours.
How are achilles tendon injuries treated?
When you arrive at the emergency room or physicians office you will be first examined. The attending physician will examine the back of your ankle or leg and feel for swelling and/or any defects within the Achilles tendon.
Just because a defect is not felt does not mean that a tear is not present. If the pain is severe enough that one cannot walk, a tear should be suspected. In the case of a strain this will typically cause limping but one would still be able to walk. If an Achilles tear is suspect then in most cases an MRI would be ordered. The reason this test is chosen is because an MRI is used to diagnose soft tissue injury. An x-ray will only show bone injury.
If you experience any of the above symptoms call for an appointment or request one here on our website.