Achilles tendon injuries are on the rise, with more than 230,000 reported cases occurring in the U.S. every year. While athletes have a significantly higher risk of Achilles tendon injuries, including ruptures and Achilles tendinitis, these injuries can affect anyone. Once injured, the Achilles tendon can be slow to heal, with a recovery period that can be over a year long.
Learning how to prevent an Achilles tendon injury is crucial in avoiding painful symptoms. However, if you have already sustained an injury, there are several steps you can take to treat your Achilles tendon injury and recover faster.
Your Achilles tendon connects your heel bone to the muscles in the back of your calf. This tendon is incredibly important for walking, jumping, and running. It’s also the tendon that allows you to raise yourself onto your tiptoes and point your toes downward.
While these tendons are strong enough to withstand up to 1,100 pounds of force, they don’t get adequate blood supply, making them more predisposed to injury. This lack of blood supply also causes Achilles tendon injuries to take longer to heal as they lack the amount of nutrients and fluids essential for healing.
Overuse of the Achilles tendon or having a sudden increase in duration or intensity of sports and exercise can lead to Achilles tendonitis, which involves tiny tears in the tendon, or an Achilles tendon rupture, when the tendon tears much more severely. These injuries can also be caused by falling from a height and from stepping into a hole.
Several factors increase your risk of suffering an Achilles tendon injury. Factors that increase your risk of injury are:
Pain is the primary symptom of an Achilles tendon injury. Pain may be mild or severe, depending on the severity of the injury, which may worsen over time. Pain associated with an Achilles tendon rupture is far more severe and instant compared to Achilles tendonitis and other injuries. You may also experience symptoms such as:
If you believe that you have suffered an Achilles tendon injury, it’s essential to talk to your doctor immediately. Your doctor can diagnose the injury using a physical exam and image testing, such as an x-ray or an ultrasound.
Knowing how to treat an Achilles tendon injury can help you get onto the path of recovery faster and avoid further injury. The best ways to treat an Achilles tendon injury include:
An Achilles tendon injury can be serious, and recovery may take months or more than a year, depending on your injury severity. While recovering, it’s important to avoid returning to your previous activity level until you can easily move your leg. Additionally, make sure you do not experience pain when walking, jumping, sprinting, or jogging. The injured leg should feel as strong as your uninjured one.
When it comes to an Achilles tendon injury, an ounce of prevention is the best medicine. While there is nothing you can do to eliminate your risk for an injury, you can minimize your risk by:
Achilles tendon injuries can impact anyone and lead to acute pain and reduced mobility. When left untreated, injuries can have difficulty healing or be susceptible to reoccurrence. Therefore, treat an Achilles tendon injury right away and avoid activities that may worsen the condition.
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