Do you think you have Achilles tendonitis? Do you have pain at the bottom of your calf muscle or your heel? We use this tendon for many activities such as jumping, walking, running. We are all a lot more active now which is great. However, continuous, intense physical activity often running, walking or jumping can cause painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Other causes include wearing high heels daily for long periods, wearing old or poorly fitted trainers/shoes, a sudden increase in intense physical activity to name a few.
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Here at Bodyworx we are going to be writing blogs each month to give you an insight into common medical conditions, their symptoms and how they can be helped.
The Achilles tendon, gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles). They form the compartment of muscles of the back of the lower leg. Arising from just above the back of the knee on the thigh bone, the gastrocnemius is the largest of the three muscles, it effects both the knee and ankle joint. Deeper to this muscle is the soleus, this muscle is shorter and also attaches onto the Achilles and only affects the ankle joint. The Achilles tendon itself arises from middle of the calf muscles where it binds to the gastrocnemius and soleus, the tendon then becomes thinner and runs down to the lower aspect of the heel bone, the calcaneus.
Lower leg pain is very common. As a clinic we see many cases of pain arising from the back of the lower leg. But why? The lower leg is subject to use everyday and sometimes for prolonged periods of time. Walking, running, jumping all create a lot of tension in this part of the body. Often pain is caused by overuse with lack of protective measures such as stretching and massaging or foam rollering. By not doing this your two calf muscles are getting tighter, this tension then transfers into the Achilles tendon. With this amount of tension and the amount of force exerted through these areas, there is a higher chance of injury.
What are the different types of injury? Starting with repetitive strain injuries, Achilles tendonitis; this typically occurs when you start doing repetitive exercises such as running, jumping or long walking up and down heels when the muscles aren't conditioned fully, however it can be traumatic. The calf muscles get very tight pulling the Achilles, as the length of time increases, inflammation also increases; therefore becoming more painful, hot and possibly swollen. Achilles bursitis is similar in the nature of how its occurs, but when the calf muscles become tight this time the friction causes irritation on the fluid filled sac between the Achilles tendon and bone. Again, it is worse with movement and exercise, therefore the more you do the more it becomes irritated with similar symptoms to Achilles tendonitis.
Strains, muscular strains are common in the lower limb. Running, walking etc aren't the cause generally with these injuries. These injuries happen when you are doing activities such as running, jumping and apply a submaximal to a maximal load. Often another and common way in which these types of loads can be reache
d is by slipping, this can sometimes be worse as it is an unexpected high velocity load being applied to the body. The types of sport often causing these injuries are tennis, badminton, basketball, football etc. Reduced mobility, pain and stiffness, sometimes some swelling may all become apparent if injury does happen.
Not as common but a more severe injury would be an Achilles rupture, the mechanics of the injury are similar to a strain or trauma. However, the damage is much more severe. An Achilles tendon rupture usually occurs about 2 inches above the heel bone, the symptoms include; a sudden pain or pop, a depression in the tendon itself, swelling, standing on tiptoes may soon become impossible.
When you visit the Chiropractor it is likely they will do a full orthopaedic examination of the area affected. This should help the Chiropractor determine exactly what area is effect and exactly what tissues are affected. If required you may be referred for further imaging or tests. If Chiropractic treatment is best suited for you, then treatment is likely to include cryotherapy, ART, trigger point therapy, stretching, taped support to the affect structures. Being proactive at Bodyworx; we would also give you conditioning exercises to help prevent this from happening in the future. Patient education is also an important aspect at Bodyworx, we believe the more you understand about your problem the better your chances are of remaining pain free.
As with any medical condition it is better to be seen sooner rather than later as it increases the treatment options, and also improves the prognosis.