In Greek Mythology, Achilles was a hero who, after his birth, was dipped into the river Styx by his mother Thetis in attempt to make him immortal. She held her infant by his heel, which never touched the waters. Throughout his life, Achilles became a great warrior and leader. His ultimate demise, however, came as a result of the unprotected heel, his only source of vulnerability.
The story of Achilles is certainly interesting, but there is no myth when it comes to the importance of the tendon that bears his name. It is your body’s largest and strongest, and is essential for keeping you mobile and independent. A case of Achilles tendinitis won’t completely take away that independence, but it can cause symptoms that make favorite activities less enjoyable.
Tendinitis is essentially a matter of your Achilles tendon becoming inflamed—often as a result of injury. Accompanying the inflammation are aches, stiffness, tenderness, and even pain. These symptoms typically begin following periods of activity, particularly when stress is placed on the tendon.
Some risk factors for this condition include:
- Age and gender. The injury is most commonly experienced by middle-aged men, especially those who participate in high-impact activities on the weekends (the proverbial “weekend warriors”). Leading a sedentary lifestyle for six days of the week and then giving max effort in a rec basketball league increases the likelihood of an injury to the tendon.
- Training choices. Suddenly jumping into a new workout program without gradually ramping up your levels of intensity and duration makes it more likely that we’ll need to see you at our Richardson, TX podiatrist office!
- Physical issues. Structural abnormalities, tight calf muscles, and obesity are all physical conditions that could potentially cause or contribute to tendinitis.
Care for Achilles tendinitis is often conservative in nature. When you first sustain the injury, practicing the RICE method of first aid will help to control the situation. Rest, ice, compress, and elevate the affected area to prevent further injury, reduce swelling and pain, and give your body the chance to heal.
In the event home treatment is not enough, we might prescribe medication to control inflammation and pain. We may also use orthotic devices, like shoe wedges or inserts, to slightly elevate your injured heel and relieve strain on the tendon.
If you are interested in additional information, or need to schedule an appointment for treatment, give Richardson Podiatry Associates a call at (972) 690-5374. You can also use our online form to request your appointment today.