The stress of repetitive exercise activities encountered in sports such as tennis and basketball often cause aggravation to the Achilles tendon that can become extremely painful and debilitating.
There are two types of Achilles tendonitis determined by the part of the tendon that is affected:
- Non-Insertional Achilles tendonitis – Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis is characterized by a degeneration and tearing of the fibers in the middle part of the tendon, causing it to swell and thicken. This type of tendonitis tends to affect younger, active people.
- Insertional Achilles tendonitis – Insertional Achilles tendonitis involves the lower heel area at the point where the tendon attaches (or “inserts”) to the heel bone. Although tendonitis that affects the insertion of the tendon can occur to anyone —even in patients who are not very active —it usually happens after years of stress and overuse that occur from activities such as long distance running and high-impact sports.
In both forms of Achilles tendonitis, the damaged tendon fibers may also become calcified. Bony growths called heel spurs are more likely to form in patients with insertional Achilles tendonitis.
Treatments for Achilles tendonitis
Treatments include rest, icing, and elevation to relieve stress and swelling. Custom orthotic inserts can insulate and isolate the heel area while the tendon heals. Switching to a low-impact activity such as swimming can provide relief while still being able to exercise. A variety of stretching exercises can be used to increase the flexibility and strength of the Achilles tendon.
If you notice pain developing in your heel while exercising, take a break and evaluate the extent of the injury. Be sure to give yourself some time to heal when you first notice symptoms to avoid further damage.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, see your podiatrist for the proper diagnosis and treatment. The foot specialists at ETL Podiatry in Briarwood and Melville, NY, have unparalleled experience in treating all aspects of foot and ankle problems. Our team of doctors is dedicated to serving you with all of the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Melville, NY (631)-549-8637 and Briarwood, NY (718)-657-8921.