Injuries to the Achilles Tendon
Tendons are long, tough cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The Achilles tendon, the largest and strongest tendon in your body, connects the heel bone to the calf muscle at the back of the heel to enable activities such as walking, running and jumping. These activities cause a significant amount of stress on the tendon. An overly stressed Achilles tendon can be subject to mild or serious injuries. If the injury is mild or moderate, it may be limited to burning or stiffness. If the pain is severe, the Achilles tendon may be partly torn or even completely ruptured.
These injuries tend to happen when you start moving suddenly, more so when you push off and lift your foot rather than when you land. For instance, a sprinter might get one at the start of a race as he surges off the starting block. The abrupt action can be too much for the tendon to handle. Men over 30 are particularly prone to Achilles tendon injuries.
Certain situations can make you more likely to have this kind of injury:
- You wear high heels, which can stress the tendon.
- You have “flat feet,” also called fallen arches. This means that when you take a step, the impact causes the arch of your foot to collapse, stretching the muscles and tendons.
- Your leg muscles or tendons are too tight.
- You take medicines called glucocorticoids or antibiotics called fluoroquinolones.
Contact a doctor if you notice:
- Pain down the back of your leg or near your heel
- Pain that gets worse when you’re active
- A stiff, sore Achilles tendon when you first get up
- Pain in the tendon the day after exercising
- Swelling with pain that gets worse as you’re active during the day
- Thickening of your tendon
- Bone spurs on the heel bone
- Difficulty flexing the affected foot
- A “pop” sound and sudden sharp pain, which can mean a ruptured tendon
Bruises, or contusions, appear when the tiny blood vessels in the skin are damaged due to trauma. They are often visible by the discoloration they cause.
Gap In The Back Of The Ankle
Tendons are long, tough cords of tissue that connect your muscles to bone. When these are dislocated from their proper place, they leave a gap in the ankle.
Inflammation is a process by which the white blood cells, and substances they produce, protect us from an infection of foreign organisms, such as bacteria.
Numbness, or tingling, is often described as a “pins and needles” sensation. Although temporary, this may cause pain or discomfort.
Heel pain is pain localized in the back of the foot. Heel pain may be due to numerous conditions, including a stress fracture, tendonitis, arthritis, nerve irritation or, rarely, a cyst.
Pain In The Calf Or Leg
There are a variety of conditions that can affect the calf muscles, as well as the blood vessels and other structures around it, causing calf or leg pain.
Pain When Moving The Foot
If pain from moving the foot remains despite home treatments, it might be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition.
Popping Or Snapping Sensation
Popping or snapping sensation in the ankle or feet may indicate a condition called subluxation or dislocation of the tendons.
Based on your doctor’s evaluation of the severity of your injury, treatments may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Specific exercises to strengthen your calf muscles
- Physical therapy
- Eccentric strength training – exercises that help strengthen your calf muscles to take pressure off your tendon
- Low-impact activities, such as swimming
- Heel lifts in shoes, orthotic shoes, cast, splint, or a walking boot
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy. This treatment uses high-energy shockwave impulses to help stimulate the healing process in damaged tendon tissue.
If these treatments do not work, or if the injury is severe, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery depends on the location and amount of damage to your tendon.