The Achilles Tendon is the large tendon of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf, and is connected to the heel bone. The name originates in Greek mythology when, as the story goes, Achilles’ mother dipped him into the river Styx to protect Achilles’ body from harm by making him invincible. Achilles’ mother held Achilles by the ankle, the only part of his body which did not receive the protective coating of the river Styx, and therefore remained vulnerable to injury and harm.
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Tendinitis, or tendonitis, is the inflammation of a tendon. In Achilles Tendinitis, the prominent tendon along the back of the leg from the calf to the heel is inflamed and painful. The Achilles Tendon is used every time you walk, run, dance, or jump. Achilles Tendinitis is often seen in athletes who overuse the tendon, such as runners increasing their regimen in duration or distance. The tendon can withstand stresses such as running and jumping, but over time it can degenerate and become more vulnerable to injury.
The Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles Tendinitis is generally caused by the irritation or inflammation of the sheath surrounding the Achilles Tendon. Athletes, and younger, active people are most commonly affected by Noninsertional Achilles Tendinitis. This affects the middle of the tendon. Fibers begin to degenerate and become swollen and tender. Insertional Achilles Tendinitis affects the area of the heel where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. This type of tendinitis affects active and sedentary alike. Repetitive stress causes Achilles Tendinitis. Forcing the body to go beyond its current capability, such as an increase in exercise, having very tight calf muscles, and bone spurs can all cause Achilles Tendinitis. Poor circulation can also be a contributing factor.
The Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
The primary symptom of Achilles Tendinitis is pain along the area extending from the calf to the heel. The formation of bone spurs is another indicator. Pain in the middle of the tendon, or a point of the tendon which is extremely tender, pain at the back of the heel, and an enlarged Achilles Tendon all suggest Achilles Tendinitis. Another clue is the inability to flex the foot. Pain is often severe after exercising.
The Treatment of Achilles Tendinitis
An estimated 90% of Achilles Tendinitis cases are caused by sport or exercise injury or overuse. Chiropractic treatment is very effective in resolving Achilles Tendonitis. This tendon has a very poor blood supply, causing the tissues to repair more slowly. Chiropractic treatment may include improving blood circulation to the area, improving the movement patterns of the foot, leg, and ankle, and helping the body to achieve balance. In addition, lengthening the calf muscles through exercise is often part of the treatment.
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