Pro Athletes Not the Only Ones at Risk for Achilles Tendon Problems
You don’t have to be an accomplished athlete to suffer Achilles tendon injuries. They can happen from household tasks like climbing a ladder.
A Northern Virginia foot and ankle surgeon says Achilles tendon weakness is common in adults. But seeking treatment when symptoms occur can prevent more serious injury.
“Achilles tendonitis is common for anyone whose work routine puts constant stress on the feet and ankles,” says Steven A. Gordon DPM, FACFAS, a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) with offices in Reston, Manassas and Leesburg “Achilles tendon injuries happen most often to less conditioned, ‘weekend warrior’ athletes who overdo it. But I’ve also had patients who have ruptured the tendon simply by climbing a ladder quickly.”
The Achilles tendon is the longest and strongest tendon in the body. It is subjected to considerable wear and tear. “When the tendon becomes inflamed from overuse, or sudden stress, tendonitis can weaken it over time and cause microscopic tears.
Dr. Gordon says people risk further deterioration and possible rupture when they don't seek medical care for Achilles tendon injuries. The main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are pain, stiffness and tenderness. Pain occurs in the morning, improves with motion, but gets worse with increasing stress and activity.
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ consumer Web site, FootHealthFacts.org, treatments can include:
Casting to immobilize the Achilles tendon and promote healing
Ice to reduce swelling
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain and inflammation
Physical therapy to strengthen the tendon
Surgery, if other approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition
Dr. Gordon says the major causes of Achilles tendon injuries involve jumping and running.
“In sports like basketball and tennis, muscles and tendons in the back of the leg are prone to injury from an imbalance that occurs from a lot of forward motion," He says. "As a result, the frontal imbalance can weaken the tendon unless stretching exercises are performed regularly.”
He says the best way to prevent Achilles tendon injuries is to warm up gradually by walking and stretching. Avoid strenuous sprinting or hill running if you are not in shape for it.
If you have symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, contact Dr. Gordon's office at (703) 368-7166. For more on Achilles tendon problems, visit FootHealthFacts.org.