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    A foot X-ray showing the complex bone system that makes up the human foot
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    The human foot and ankle has a complex anatomy. It is composed of the outer skin layer, the vascular system, neuromuscular system and skeletal system. Any of these can develop problems during your lifetime.
Achilles Tendonitis

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis causes inflammation and degeneration of the achilles tendon. The achilles tendon is the large tendon located in the back of the leg that inserts into the heel. The pain caused by achilles tendonitis can develop gradually with or without a history of trauma.

The sufferer can experience shooting pain, burning pain, or even an extremely piercing pain. Achilles tendonitis should not be left untreated due to the danger that the tendon can become weak and as a consequence can rupture.   Individuals who suffer from achilles tendonitis often complain that their first steps out of bed in the morning are extremely painful. Another common complaint is pain after steps are taken after long periods of sitting. This pain often lessens with activity.  

Achilles Tendonitis is aggravated by activities that repeatedly stress the tendon, causing inflammation. In some cases even prolonged periods of standing can cause symptoms. It is a common problem often experienced by athletes, particularly distance runners. Achilles Tendonitis is a difficult injury to treat in athletes due to their high level of activity and reluctance to stop or slow down their training.  

 

Cause

There are several factors that can cause achilles tendonitis. The most common cause is over-pronation. Over-pronation occurs while walking, when the arch of the foot collapses upon weight bearing, adding stress on the achilles tendon.   Other factors that lead to achilles tendonitis are improper footwear, inadequate stretching before sport activities, a short achilles tendon, direct trauma (injury) to the tendon, and deformities in the calcaneus (heel bone).

 

Treatment and Prevention

Athletes, particularly runners, should incorporate a thorough stretching program to properly warm-up the muscles. They should decrease the distance of their walk or run, apply ice after the activity and avoid any uphill climbs. Athletes should use an orthotic device, heel cup, or heel cradle for extra support.   A heel cup or heel cradle elevates the heel to reduce stress and pressure on the Achilles tendon. The device should be made with light-weight, shock absorbing materials.

Patients who suffer from such symptoms or have a history of Achilles tendonitis should schedule a consultation with a Podiatrist in order to have their feet examined with the aim of reducing stress on the achilles tendon, prevent deterioration or reoccurrence, by utilising an orthotic device that can be used to control abnormal biomechanics such as over-pronation, support the medial longitudinal arch.

 

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