Chronic Achilles tendinitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed over a period of time, usually due to repetitive overuse or irritation.
The pain of chronic Achilles tendonitis can occur lower down the ankle at the insertion point of the tendon (referred to as insertional tendinitis) into the heel bone or part way up the tendon(referred to non-insertional tendinitis). In addition, it is common that the tendon becomes enlarged and inflexible with the build up of scar tissue.
Although this condition is very common among male recreational runners between the ages of 35-45, Achilles tendinitis can also affect people participating in lower impact sports, like golf, and less active pastimes, such as gardening who may have poor foot mechanics or weakened muscles and tendon tissue.
Symptoms of Chronic Achilles Tendonitis
- Pain and stiffness after long periods of rest.
- Tender and warm to the touch.
- A gradual onset of pain with no specific event known as the cause.
- A thicker or swollen Achilles tendon.
- Constant pain throughout exerciseand even during daily activity.
- A possible lump in the tendonapproximately 2 inches above the heel.
- Pain that increases when walking uphill or up stairs.
- A creaking feeling may occur when you press the tendon or move your ankle.
If you feel a sharp pain, as though you’ve been hit in the back of the ankle, and hear a “pop” sound, your Achilles tendon has likely ruptured. A complete rupture of the tendon is caused when the it is overstressed to the point of tearing. It will be very difficult for you to walk or move your ankle if this is the case
Chronic Achilles Tendonitis Causes
Some of the causes of chronic Achilles tendinitis include:
- Acute Achilles tendinitis that has gone untreated.
- Not warming up or stretching before and after exercise.
- Wearing high heels over a long period of time. High heels cause the calf muscles to contract providing less slack in the Achilles tendon.
- Training on uneven terrain or a change in terrain (i.e. hills) .
- Weak or inflexible calf muscles.
- An inflexible Achilles tendon (i.e. tendon with scar tissue from previous injury or wear and tear or acute Achilles tendinitis).
- Flat feet (also called pes planus or fallen arches) can cause extra stress on the Achilles tendon.
- Over-pronation of the foot – rolling your foot inward when you walk or run.
- Bony growths around the heel which irritate the Achilles tendon.
Achilles Tendon Treatments
It is important to treat Achilles tendon injuries as soon as possible, as any activity or strain you put on your tendon can re-injure it further. Though the pain, discomfort, and inconvenience of an Achilles condition can be overwhelming, it is possible to overcome it.
The trick with any tendon injury is getting it toheal with minimal scar tissue formation. Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt, during exercise and everyday activities. However, if you heal your injury efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower than average.
Allowing your Achilles tendon to rest is always recommended following injury. Avoid all activities that may have caused the injury or irritation andbegin cold compression treatments as soon as possible. The Achilles tendon is a difficult tendon to rest completely as it is an essential tendon for walking and daily activities. Fortunately, there are healing tools that can help treat your tendon and speed up the healing process so you can get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) will promote blood flow to heal your tendon faster and more completely than any other methods available.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of Achilles tendinitis, they should generally be avoided as they weaken the tendon and may lead to a rupture. If you do opt for an injection, doctors usually recommend that you do not participate in strenuous activities for several weeks to reduce the risk of a rupture.