Achilles tendonitis is a condition caused by irritation of the largest tendon found in the human body, the Achilles tendon. Located in the back of the ankle, this condition is recognized as a frequent injury among athletes. Overuse of this tendon results in inflammation that can lead to swelling and pain.
The development of Achilles tendonitis can be related to two important factors among athletes, lack of flexibility and over-pronation. With age, the tendons begin to lose flexibility, just as other tissues in the body. This change causes the tendons to become more rigid and ultimately more susceptible to injury. For some individuals, the ankle may roll too far downward and inward with each step. This is known as over-pronation, which places more stress on the tendons and ligaments of the foot, contributing to injury if not corrected.
Achilles tendonitis may also develop from other factors. A rapid increase in an athlete’s daily activity routine will add repetitive stress on the feet. The constant overuse of the feet increases the risk of developing tendinitis among athletes who participate in sports like running. Alongside these, improper footwear may offer little support and cushioning to the heel. Trauma from an accident can also cause irritation, inflammation, and swelling on the tendons of the ankle, leading to the familiar symptoms of the condition.
The most common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are pain at the site of injury, swelling, and limited mobility. Pain tends to decrease with mild activity or rest but with increased motion, the pain usually worsens. The irritation on the fibrous band of tissue causes swelling, inflammation, and tenderness near the tendon, where occasionally the calf may also become swollen. As a result, the pain and swelling restricts the movements of the foot and everyday activities such as running, climbing, and even standing, become stressful to the Achilles tendon.
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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