How do I know if I have Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis, also known as Achilles tenosynovitis or Achilles tendinopathy, is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Symptoms include pain in the back of the calf, usually close to the heel and most commonly 2-6 cm from the insertion of the Achilles in the heel bone. Others symptoms may include swelling, difficult with walking or a hard time exercising. This tendonitis is usually caused by overuse syndrome while active, which can affect athletes. Treatment includes ice, rest, anti-inflammatory medication, heel lifts, Achilles tendon stretching etc. If someone does not treat this injury appropriately it may lead to an Achilles tendon rupture.
Why does it seem that so many professional sports player get Achilles ruptures and can anyone get them?
The answer to this question is that anyone can rupture their Achilles rupture. An Achilles rupture is more common in men, ages 30-40. It is common in what is known as a “weekend warrior”, someone who is not quite athletic and then pushes themselves to exercise on their free time and these people tend to overdo it and then tear their Achilles.
Ruptures are caused my many different things such as overuse, Achilles tendonitis, certain antibiotics etc. When one tears their Achilles traumatically they usually hear a “pop” in the back of their calf and then they are unable to bear any weight. If someone experiences these symptoms they will most of the time present to the Emergency Room with them complaints. If the patient is a young, healthy, athletic patient most of the time the surgeon will recommend repairing the tendon. If one is older, more sedentary they may choose to allow the tendon to repair with conservative methods.
Many famous sports players have suffered from Achilles ruptures. Ryan Howard, from the Philadelphia Philles and Kobe Bryant, from the Los Angeles Lakers, are athletes who have ruptured their Achilles. These professional sports players ruptured their Achilles from an excessive amount of exercise and pressure placed on their calf and ankles. Both of these athletes opted for surgery in order to return to their pre injury athletic abilities.
How do I treat an Achilles tendon rupture?
If one chooses conservative treatment it includes a minimum of 8 weeks in a cast with no weight to the affected leg. There is a high chance of re rupture if one chooses this method of treatment. This is recommended for someone who is not very active and whom may be medically unstable for surgery.
Surgery is the primary method to fix an Achilles tendon rupture. Surgery usually requires general anesthesia as well as a long recovery period. The type of surgery one will have will depends on how bad the rupture is. Sometimes one can repair it with sutures or it may be more extensive where a graft from within your body or from a cadaver is needed. Recovery includes 6-8 weeks in a cast non weight bearing. Following that physical therapy will be needed to regain strength in that extremity.
In conclusion, these injuries, whether tendonitis or a rupture, can be quite debilitating and need treatment from a physician. If someone is unsure of what they are suffering from a visit to their physician will help with a diagnosis and treatment. These symptoms should not be ignored since they can cause long term problems with ambulation.