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Achilles Tendon Injuries

Achilles tendon injuries can be extremely painful and debilitating. Unfortunately, they are commonly occurring. While the vast majority of these injuries are found in athletes, both amateur and professional, anyone can be affected. Tears to these tendons can result in both short term and long term damage. If you have or have had an injury to your Achilles tendon, you may benefit from treatments and therapies like those at Advance Health and Wellness.

The Achilles tendon gets its name from Greek Mythology.  Achilles was made immortal by being dipped into mystical waters, but his mother had to hold him by his heel to do so. As a result, his heel was left untouched by the water, and was his only spot of weakness; hence the phrase “Achilles heel”.

Unlike the myth, this tendon is the strongest and largest tendon in our bodies. It stretches from the bones in your heel to the muscles in your calf. If you touch your heel, you can feel the band of tissue at the back of your ankle that feels a bit like a very thick rubber band pulled taught. This tendon is somewhat like a rubber band as it stretches, allowing you to point your toes toward the floor. This working together of your heel and calf muscles is extremely important for activities like jumping, standing on your tip-toes, climbing a flight of stairs, or running. It is also the reason why athletes such as runners, basketball players, dancers, and football players experience this injury often.

Athletes who play other sports may also experience tears or ruptures to their Achilles tendon, including, gymnasts, baseball and softball players, tennis players, and volleyball players.

Tendonitis, in which the tendon becomes swollen and painful, can also be a cause of these injuries in addition to participation in athletics. Other causes of this type of injury to the tendon could be: overuse, increasing your level of physical activity quickly, flat feet or fallen arches, or wearing high heels. Because of its various causes, anyone can be at risk for this type of injury, though males over the age of 30 are more prone to an Achilles tear.

Sudden motion, like that of a basketball player at tip-off, increases the chances of tearing an Achilles tendon as well. The tensing of the muscle in an abrupt way, caused by jumping suddenly to tip the ball towards your teammates, can be too much for the tendon to handle.

Symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury include:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Pain above and along the back of the heel, especially when you stretch your ankle or stand on your toes
  • Stiffness
  • A popping noise when the injury occurs
  • Difficulty either pointing your toes or flexing your foot

While you may be able to experience pain relief from medications, these will only mask the pain, and will also not help heal the injury. Achilles tears can worsen if not given proper care, and they do almost always require some sort of treatment plan.