Understanding Achilles Tendon Injuries

In this video, Dr. Baravarian discusses common Achilles tendon injuries.

The physicians at University Foot and Ankle Institute have decades of combined experience treating Achilles tendon injuries and are proud to offer the most advanced treatment options available.

 

They are nationally recognized innovators in the research, development and education of the latest technologies for the treatment of a variety of Achilles tendon care.

 

From minor tendonitis to a complete Achilles ruptures, rest assure, our physicians are among the top in the nation and offer the very best care in a relaxed, family-friendly environment.

 

 

What Causes Achilles Tendon Injuries?

The Achilles tendon is one of the longest tendons in your body, extending from the bones of your heel to your calf muscles.

It Is responsible for you being able to extend your foot and point your toes to the floor and unfortunately, it's one of the most frequently injured tendons.

 

Causes of an Achilles Tendon Injury Include:

  • Overuse
  • Increasing your physical activity too quickly (often the curse of the "weekend warrior")
  • Wearing high heels (since heels add a lot of stress on the Achilles tendon)
  • Pre-existing foot problems (such as flat feet or over-pronation)
  • Muscles or tendons in the leg that are tight (did you remember to stretch and warm up?)
  • And many more...

 

 

Symptoms of an Achilles Tendon Injury

Tenderness, stiffness and swelling are common complaints as is pain along the back of your foot and above your heel. This is especially true when stretching your ankle or standing on your toes. With tendonosis, the pain may be mild and worsen gradually. If you rupture the tendon, pain can be abrupt and severe, though some report feeling little pain at the time of the injury.

 

Hearing a snapping or popping noise during the injury or have a hard time flexing your foot or pointing your toes is something you never want to ignore. These indicate a possible complete tendon tear.

 

 

Common Achilles Tendon Injuries

Sue, a UFAI Achilles patient, describes her her injury and her return to marathon training.

If your doctor determines that your Achilles tendon is the source of your problem, they will likely diagnose one of following four injuries:

 

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) is soreness or stiffness of the Achilles tendon and the pain is usually localized in the back of the tendon, just above its attachment to the heel bone.

 

It is essential to seek treatment within days if the pain does not significantly decrease. Waiting too long or ignoring your pain or injuries can lead toe a condition called Achilles tendonosis, which is explained next.

 

Learn more about Achilles Tendonitis.

 

Achilles Tendonosis

Achilles tendonitis is very similar to tendinitis with one critical difference, it has now become a “chronic” condition, usually because the injury wasn’t properly treated early on.

 

At this point, without medical intervention, the pain is going to remain or get worse over time. Luckily Achilles tendinosis is highly treatable thanks to modern medicine, but more difficult to treat once the condition becomes chronic. This is why seeing a doctor early is the smartest approach to Achilles injuries.

 

Learn more about Achilles Tendinosis.

 

Achilles Tendon Rupture or Tear

Achilles tendon ruptures and tears (partial and full) are injuries that are most likely to occur during physical activities requiring sudden eccentric stretching, such as when sprinting and jumping. The pain profile for this injury includes sudden or sharp pain, swelling, bruising or the inability to point your foot down or stand on your toes. Serious tears can also prevent you from even walking you may have also heard a loud pop when the injury occurred..

 

Surprisingly, a complete tear of the Achilles tendon is NOT usually painful after the first few minutes. This is because the tendon nerve fibers are severed when the Achilles is completely torn.

 

Learn more about Torn or Ruptured Achilles Tendon Injuries.

 

Achilles Heel Bone Spur

Bone spurs are often caused by an overgrowth of calcium on the back of the foot. This condition usually causes heel pain because of continuous tugging of an irritated and inflamed Achilles tendon on the back of the heel. Spurs cause pain and can destroy the attachment of the Achilles tendon, which if left untreated, causes more serious problems like tendon ruptures and tears.

 

Learn more about Achilles Heel Bone Spurs.

 

 

Treatment Options for Achilles Tendon Injuries

The most effective way to treat any Achilles condition is when the injury is new. Our physicians have extensive experience treating Achilles tendon injuries and offer several non-invasive treatments that are often successful in treating for both new and lingering injuries. When treated promptly, these treatments are effective more than 90% of time.

 

Conservative Achilles Tendon Injury Treatment Options:


Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

While conservative treatments are effective more than 90% of the time, there are cases where a more aggressive option is necessary. These minimally invasive treatments, which do not require surgery, include:

 

Surgical Treatment Options for an Achilles Tendon Injury

  • Achilles tendonosis surgery is not common, but in certain cases, it may be necessary to remove scar tissue or lengthen the calf muscle to decrease stress on the Achilles tendon.

  • Heel spurs may require surgery to relieve the tension and stress that the Achilles tendon is placing on the area of the heel spur.

  • Achilles tendon tears and ruptures usually require surgery. Because the tendon ends are fully torn and the Achilles does not function it often requires surgery due to thegapping of the tendon ends and lack of proper tension in the tendon. At University Foot and Ankle Institute, we utilize the percutaneous Achilles repair system (or PARS) minimally invasive technique for a faster and more aesthetically pleasing recovery than traditional methods.

 

Browse our before and after pictures of Achilles tendon surgeries.

 

 

Why Choose UFAI's Podiatrists to Treat Your Achilles Tendon Injury?

Achilles repair procedures are complex surgeries, the doctors at University Foot and Ankle Institute have extensive knowledge and expertise in Achilles tears and their treatment. New technologies that include special hardware, that we helped develop in partnership with several manufacturers, along with advances in graft material. These new technologies and treatments have led to dramatic advances in the reconstruction of Achilles tears.

 

Our goal is to get you back on your feet in the shortest amount of time.

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