Tendons, bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, cartilage….
There are so many terms and word to sort through when it comes to our bodies. Skeletal muscles are contractile. They contract and shorten to produce movement. They contract to hold and joint in place. They lengthen under force as well eccentrically (picture lowering down stairs).
Ligaments connect bone to bone and help secure your different joints.
Cartilage covered the joint surfaces between joints. It provide shock absorption and helps with smooth movement.
Your tendons are an extension of the skeletal muscles that connect muscles to bone. They act with a pulley and lever system to help produce movement.
Forces in and on your body don’t take place in a vacuum. These structures as well as the bones help move you, stop you and absorb forces.
Your achilles tendon is the strongest and largest tendon in the body. It is vulnerable to injury due to its limited blood supply, age related changes and specific activities.
Injury to the Achilles Tendon:
Tendonitis is the acute inflammation of the tendon. In this case the achilles tendon connecting he calf muscles to the heel bone becomes irritated and inflamed. This is often associated with overuse. This is often from doing more or too much too quickly for our bodies to adapt. For many people there is a sudden increase in exercise activity or intensity.
Achilles tendonitis can cause local pain and stiffness. The first steps after sitting or laying down may cause pain in the achilles area. Walking down stairs can also sometimes be painful or stiff feeling in the area of the achilles tendon.
Achilles tendonitis can be common in athletes like runners, soccer, basketball, and volleyball athletes with running and jumping repetitively. Sudden increases in volume as well as a persons body structure can play a role. It can be helpful to have the area looked at by a Physiotherapist and / or Chiropodist to provide specific treatment.
This type of treatment may include things to address the inflammation and pain in the short term. It will also likely include long term suggestions of strengthening, footwear modifications and possibly custom orthotics.
Achilles tendinopathy is a longer term overuse injury of the achilles and excessive chronic stress. Due to the chronic nature of this issue, there may be a range of changes to the tendon. These changes are more likely to happen when there are repeated bouts of tendonitis that are not treated, managed or prevented.
Higher risk factors are obesity, high blood pressure, sudden load changes to the achilles tendon, Type II diabetes, prolonged steroid use, inappropriate footwear, and a family history.
Rupture or tearing of the achilles tendon is the most common rupture in the lower body. It its most common in those aged 30 to 50. Patients often describe this injury as feeling like someone has kicked them. They may hear a “pop” or “snap” sound.
Achilles tendon ruptures, like many injuries are multifactorial.
Achilles tendon ruptures are most common in people who are active “on occasion”. This could mean mild activity during the week and some weekends playing a couple games of floor hockey or soccer. There is a small percentage of people (~10%) that report having tendinosis prior to the rupture.
Ruptures tend to happen around 2-4cm from where the tendon attaches to the heel bone.
Achilles tendon ruptures may happen from sudden and forced plantar flexion (pointing), direct force on the area or longstanding tendinosis.
Foot and ankle position as well as systemic factors can predispose someone to achilles tendon issues. It is important to treat and have best control of all factors for best healing of the area. Some system issues predisposing a person to achilles issues are diabetes, renal failure, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, thyroid issues etc.
If you have been having heel or achilles pain that is ongoing, progressing or off and on, one of our North Oakville Physiotherapists or Chiropodists would be happy to assess you. They will take your health history, watch how you stand, move and walk and assess the area.
This thorough and individualized assessment will provide them an idea of factors leading to your achilles pain / dysfunction and allow them to give you individualized advice and treatment. Most insurance benefits cover physiotherapy and/or chiropodist assessments and treatments. At our Oakville clinic we are able to provide direct billing to most insurance companies.
Contact us to book your in person physio or Chiropody appointment at our North Oakville Clinic or virtual physiotherapy appointment.