The Achilles tendon main function is to help raise the heel of the ground while walking, running or jumping. It is a band of tissue that connects the bones of the heel to the calf muscles, allowing the foot to flex and the toes to point. Also known as the heel cord, the Achilles tendon is the largest tendon of the body, making it more susceptible to any foot and ankle injuries in people who are active such as athletes who are playing softball.
Today, our orthopedic ankle doctor in Raleigh will talk about the Achilles tendon disorder which is prevalent to athletes who play softball.
Two most common Achilles tendon disorder
Achilles tendonitis and Achilles are the two most common disorders that occur in the heel cord.
- Achilles tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes painful or inflamed. Over a period of time, if the condition is left untreated it may progress to a degeneration of the tendon called Achilles tendonosis.
- Achilles tendonosis causes the tendon to lose its proper structure which leads to microscopic tears. In some cases, degeneration may occur in the heel bone. In very rare cases, when the degeneration is chronic, it may result in a ruptured tendon.
What are the causes?
Athletes have a higher risk of developing Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis due to the fact that they always put a high amount of stress on their feet and ankle during their game. Laborers, weekend warriors, as well as people with a sedentary lifestyle may also develop the conditions and the causes include:
- A sudden increase in an exercise routine or other activity
- Excessive flattening of the arch
- Repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis may occur anywhere along the path of the tendon. It can either be directly above the heel or below the calf muscles. The symptoms include:
- Acute to intense pain
- Enlargement of the tendon (visible nodules)
How are Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis diagnosed?
The ankle doctor will assess the patient’s foot and ankle and test the range of motion as well as the current condition of the tendon. Making use of x-ray and other imaging modalities is used to properly evaluate the extent of the condition.
How are Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis treated?
The treatment for Achilles tendonitis depends on the severity of the condition. Your doctor may recommend you to undergo the following treatment:
- Immobilization of the foot or the ankle through the use of a cast or removable walking boot, this is to reduce any kind of force to the area and to speed up healing.
- Apply a bag of ice over the affected area for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce the pain and inflammation
- Use a prescribed custom made orthotic devices
- Making use of night splints to help maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon
- Physical therapy which may include soft-tissue mobilization, strengthening exercises, ultrasound therapy, gait and running sessions and stretching.
How can this condition be prevented?
To reduce your risk of obtaining Achilles tendon disorder, you may do the following methods:
- Start your activity level slowly
- Avoid activities that put excessive stress and pressure on your tendons. An example would be hill running
- Make sure to properly warm-up before engaging in strenuous activity
- Learn when to stop and rest
- Use shoes that provide adequate cushioning for your heel
- Do stretching daily to maintain flexibility
- Perform an exercise that would strengthen your calf muscle
- Engage in cross training
What should I do if I sustain an Achilles tendon disorder from playing softball?
Visit an Ankle doctor in Raleigh if you have experienced the following:
- Your tendons are inflamed.
- The pain in your ankle or foot is persistent and the swelling did not subside within the first few days.
- You have continued instability in the ankle even when you are back to walking.
In the time following your injury, you may be unsure if what you feel is indeed a problem that needs a podiatrist’s attention. Try to remember that some injuries are not immediately recognized – they can flare up even after several days. The sooner you see an Ankle surgeon in Raleigh, the sooner your condition can be treated and the potential for further damage will be reduced.
The board certified, fellowship trained foot and ankle surgeons and board certified podiatrist at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic bring together many years of experience to diagnose and treat even the most complex foot and ankle conditions for patients of all ages.
At Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic our ankle doctors and staff are recognized as leaders and innovators in the field of orthopedics. Our foot and ankle surgeons regularly develop content designed to educate our patients with high-quality orthopedic knowledge sources.
Make an appointment with your Ankle doctor in Raleigh today to receive a specialized treatment with a personal approach.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.