The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body, but as it bears a great deal of pressure, it’s also vulnerable to injury from overuse. The expert team of foot and ankle surgeons at Kalmar Family Podiatry in Huntington, New York, has extensive experience treating injured Achilles tendons and restoring function, even when the tendon ruptures. If you have pain in your Achilles tendon, call the office today or book an appointment online.
The Achilles tendon extends from your lower leg into your foot, down the back of the heel. It’s the large, fibrous tissue you can see at the back of your ankle and is the thickest, strongest tendon in your body.
The Achilles tendon connects the heel bone to your calf muscles, so when you flex your calves, the tendon pulls on your heel. This action enables you to stand on your toes so you can walk, run, and jump.
Achilles’ tendons are extremely strong, but, because of the pressure they bear and due to having a limited blood supply, they’re also vulnerable to incurring injuries.
Problems with your Achilles tendon often start as an acute injury when you’re taking part in some form of physical activity, or they may develop gradually from continued wear and tear. The most common Achilles tendon conditions are:
You feel an acute injury as it happens, and you may even hear a popping sound if the tendon ruptures. Chronic conditions develop over time, as the tendon continues to operate under strain.
If you have an Achilles tendon problem, you’re likely to feel pain, which can be severe if the tendon is badly damaged. You may have other symptoms such as:
If you rupture your Achilles tendon, you may feel a knot on the back of your leg.
When you visit your foot specialist at Kalmar Family Podiatry with pain in your Achilles tendon, they can identify the cause through a physical examination and by running some tests.
The knee flexion or Matles test and the Thompson test are physical exams your doctor can carry out to check whether the tendon is functioning as it should. If the tendon doesn’t respond normally, that indicates a rupture.
Further diagnostic testing may include:
X-rays show bone and joint problems but aren’t able to identify Achilles tendon damage.
For minor injuries, following the principles of RICE therapy usually solves the problem. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, so rest your ankle in a raised position, use an ice pack to reduce any swelling, and apply a sports bandage. You can also take over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications.
Physical therapy with a qualified practitioner can help heal the tendon, and orthotics, splints, and braces also aid the healing process.
If the injury is more severe, your podiatrist may recommend immobilization of the ankle with a leg cast or special boot for a few weeks to take the pressure off the tendon and enable it to heal. A ruptured Achilles tendon is likely to require surgery to reattach the tendon.
If you have pain in your ankle or foot or believe you may have a damaged Achilles tendon, call Kalmar Family Podiatry today, or book an appointment online.