Two common disorders that occur in the heel cord are Achilles tendonitis and Achilles tendonosis. Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This inflammation is typically short-lived and may be treated easily with medication and decrease in activity. However, if not treated over time, the condition may progress to a degeneration of the tendon called Achilles tendonosis. In this condition, the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears. Sometimes the degeneration involves the site where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. In rare cases, chronic degeneration with or without pain may result in rupture of the tendon.
The symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis include aching pain, stiffness, soreness or tenderness within the tendon. This may occur anywhere along the tendon’s path, beginning with the tendon’s attachment directly above the heel upward to the region just below the calf muscle. The pain appears upon arising in the morning or after periods of rest, may then improve but later worsens with increased activity.
Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are selected on the basis of how long the injury has been present and the degree of damage to the tendon. In the early stage, when there is sudden (acute) inflammation, one or more of the following options may be recommended:
- Oral Medications
- Nexus Laser
- Night Splints
- Physical Therapy
As “overuse” disorders, Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis are usually caused by a sudden increase of a repetitive activity involving the Achilles tendon. Such activity puts too much stress on the tendon too quickly, leading to micro-injury of the tendon fibers. In addition, people with excessive pronation have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis due to the greater demands placed on the tendon when walking. If these individuals wear shoes without adequate stability, their flat foot condition can further aggravate the Achilles tendon.