The Achilles tendon is described as a sturdy band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the calcaneus or heel bone. It is important to note that this tendon shortens once the individual points his/her out the toes and stretches if the toes are in a flexed position. Activities that involve constant stress and pounding on the feet such as jumping and running can eventually cause damage to the Achilles tendon. Once Achilles tendinitis which is inflammation of the tendon is not properly treated, it can progress to Achilles tendinosis or degeneration of the tendon.
Take note that Achilles tendinosis is characterized by pain and stiffness of tendinitis or it can be moderately asymptomatic. It simply means that the indications of dysfunction include painless changes to the tendon fibers.
In some cases, Achilles tendinosis causes pain. Due to the micro-tearing that occurs inside the tendon fibers, the Achilles tendon becomes sore anywhere from its origin that spans about two-thirds down the rear of the lower leg up to its insertion into the heel bone.
The pain is often at its peak when the individual gets out of the bed first thing in the morning or after extended periods of being seated or at rest as well as after periods of overuse. In addition, the pain can be described as twinging, soreness or tenderness and often worsened when the sides of the affected Achilles tendon are compressed.
The chronic stiffness that occurs in the area of the Achilles tendon can also indicate Achilles tendinosis. Always bear in mind that the stiffness is worse after prolonged periods of inactivity while the affected side feels as if there is a constant stretch or tautness right above the heel.
Changes to the tendon
When an individual has Achilles tendinosis, degeneration of the collagen occurs which causes certain changes to the feel and appearance of the tendon itself. The tendon becomes enlarged in a diffuse manner. In case calcification of the tendon occurs, the tendon might have a number of palpable nodules along its length. In some circumstances, there is a sensation of fullness and the palpation of a dense, node-like tendon might be the only indications of Achilles tendinosis.
The treatment for Achilles tendinosis is based on the length and severity of the symptoms. Many cases improve without surgery. The pain and swelling can be managed with adequate rest and oral medications. In most cases, heel cups are used to lessen the pain by relieving some of the stress off the Achilles tendon while walking. Even a brace or walking boot can be used by the individual.
In case physical therapy is required, it involves stretching and improving the mobility within the calf muscle. Other treatment options include massage, ultrasound, topical nitroglycerin patches and shockwave therapy. In some cases, surgical intervention might be needed.