As the largest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon runs down the back of your leg and is responsible for connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. This tendon plays an important role in allowing you to jump, run, climb and stand on your tiptoes.
Achilles Tendonitis is a common sports injury which occurs when people put a lot of strain on their Achilles tendon, such as runners, sportspeople or professional athletes. However, the Achilles tendon can also degenerate from wear and tear through the years even if you do not engage in strenuous activity on the regular. This condition is marked by inflammation of the Achilles tendon and often causes swelling, pain or irritation. The discomfort can range from mild tenderness to severe pain.
How Should You Treat Achilles Tendonitis?
There are two different kinds of Achilles tendonitis: non-insertional Achilles tendonitis and insertional Achilles tendonitis. The former refers to tendonitis that occurs due to the degeneration of fibres in the middle portion of the Achilles tendon, while the latter involves tendonitis afflicting the lower portion of the heel where the tendon inserts into the heel bone.
The appropriate treatment for Achilles tendonitis depends on the severity of each individual’s condition. While some might be able to treat their condition with at-home care, more serious Achilles tendonitis can lead to tendon and muscle tears that may require substantial professional care such as surgical repair.
Get Your Achilles Tendonitis Treated in Singapore Now
Achilles tendonitis can make everyday activities like walking extremely uncomfortable and painful. If you are experiencing severe pain or disability, it is advised to book an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist immediately to rule out the possibility of a rupture or tear of your tendon. Receiving timely treatment will help prevent your condition from worsening and get you on the road to recovery. Orthofoot MD Centre for Orthopaedics Singapore will be happy to recommend the most appropriate treatment for your achilles tendonitis condition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Achilles Tendonitis
1. What factors make you more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis can affect people of all ages and genders. Nonetheless, there are some factors that make you more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis. These factors include age, sex, weight, fitness level and side effects of other medical treatments.
- Achilles tendonitis is most prevalent among people in their 30s – 40s
- Males are up to 5 times more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis than females
- People who participate in recreational or professional sports are at higher risk due to rigorous use of the Achilles tendon in sporting activities
- People who have previously received some form of steroid injection in the foot, for example the ankle joint, may experience weakened Achilles tendons
- Obesity also puts excess weight on the Achilles tendons
2. How do physicians diagnose Achilles tendonitis?
Your physician will take into consideration your medical history and also conduct a physical assessment of your foot in diagnosis of your condition. You may be asked questions regarding your athletic activity, when the pain or discomfort first began, or any other underlying medical conditions you are experiencing or treatments you may have received in the past or are currently receiving. You may be asked to walk around the room so the physician can visually examine your stride. The physician might also gently pinch your Achilles tendon to feel the severity of swelling, warmth or any other abnormalities. Your calf muscles will likely also be examined as they are connected to your Achilles tendon.
If more clarity is needed, the physician may conduct imaging tests like x-rays and MRIs to get a clearer picture of your Achilles tendon and rule out other conditions like bone fractures that may be causing similar pain.
3. What happens during surgery for Achilles tendonitis?
The main goal of surgery for Achilles tendonitis is to repair the rupture or tear in the Achilles tendon. Depending on the severity and scope of your condition, your surgeon may need to remove the ruptured portion and repair your tendon by stitching it back together. In severe cases, your surgeon may suggest removing the affected tendon and grafting a tendon from another part of your foot. On the other hand, a small injury will likely only require minimally invasive surgery with a few small incisions and stitches. Post-surgery treatment may involve physiotherapy.
4. How long does it take to recover from Achilles tendonitis surgery?
Surgery for Achilles tendonitis will usually take only a few hours, and rarely requires hospitalization. Nonetheless, full recovery from surgery will take anywhere from 10 months to a year or more. You will experience pain, discomfort and swelling around the surgery site in the days following your procedure. Using crutches for the first few months will help keep the weight of your foot as much as possible and you may also need to wear a cast or a protective boot. Individuals who opt for surgery usually have a lower risk of injuring their tendon again. Remember to seek your doctor’s advice on the different treatment options available for your condition.
5. How can I prevent Achilles tendonitis?
The best way to reduce the risk of developing Achilles tendonitis is to know your body’s limits. Warming up your muscles through stretches and strengthening exercise before a workout is essential. When in doubt, it is better to rest than to overexert yourself. Remember to wear appropriate and well-fitting footwear with enough cushioning and support for your sporting activities.
Achilles tendonitis often develops after a rigorous increase in activity. If you are training professionally, it is important to slowly scale up the intensity of your exercises over a period of weeks. Try to alternative high-impact sports with activities that are less strenuous on your Achilles tendon.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.