Feeling some pain in the back of your heel? Or maybe an ache up the back of your leg from your heel? You could be suffering from Achilles tendonitis.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is used whenever you walk, run, or jump. It is the tendon that helps you push off from one position to the next. The Achilles tendon can be injured in several different ways. A sudden increase in physical activity, whether it is an ambitious start of activity or a rapid increase in amount of activity, a strain can be put on the tendon. (Or apparently if you are a klutz and walk a dog that decides to go for a run with you on the other end of the leash. Oh, that may just be me…)
There are two types of Achilles tendon injuries. There is the noninsertional injury where the tendon fibers that stretch between the calf muscles and the heel are frayed and sore. These tears can lead to swelling and thickening of the tendon. This injury is mostly found in active people who may increase their exercise routine without either adequate warm up or steady increases in activity. The other injury is the insertional injury where the problem is at the heel where the tendon connects to the heel bone. This injury can occur in all people whether active or not. Bone spurs are often found with insertional tendinitis. A bone spur is a growth of extra bone in the area where the tendon connects to the heel bone. This extra growth of bone can rub against the tendon and cause pain.
What do you do to help Achilles tendinitis? Of course, if you tendinitis is caused by an activity, you need to rest. The problem will grow worse if you don’t take care of it. You need to go to visit with your friendly local podiatrist who will work with you for formulate a care plan. It may involve immobilizing the area, icing the heel, physical therapy, or a combination of these remedies.
There is a new treatment that is being used for Achilles tendinitis. It is called Platelet–Rich Plasma (PRP). This procedure is a non-surgical way to repair the Achilles. PRP involves taking some blood from the patient and putting it into a centrifuge and spinning out the patient’s platelets. The platelets are then injected back into the Achilles. The platelets contain proteins called growth factors which are very important in healing injuries. The procedure has several positive aspects. The first is that the patient’s body is using its own mechanisms to heal itself. Also, by using the patient’s own blood, it is completely compatible. The cost of the procedure is much lower than the cost of surgery and there is a quicker recovery time. After the procedure, the patient’s foot will be immobilized for a few weeks so that the area can heal. During the healing process, the patient cannot take any anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or Advil. This procedure is often used by sports figures to get them back on the field or court or greens as fast as possible.
So if you are feeling some pain in the back of your leg or your heel, it is time to go to your friendly local podiatrist and get it checked out. You want to get Achilles tendinitis under control so that it does not become a chronic problem.
If you live or work downtown Chicago and would like to see one of the friendly podiatrists there, don’t worry! You can head over to the office on the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago. Stop in and say “Hello”. They would love to meet you. They are really that friendly!
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL 60601