The Achilles tendon is the strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This lower leg tendon enables you to walk, jump, stand on your toes and climb stairs. You rely on it virtually every time you move your foot.
When the tendon is stretched beyond its normal capacity, a complete or partial tear may occur. Most Achilles tendon ruptures occur as a result of sport-related injuries when forceful jumping or sudden accelerations of running overstretch the tendon and cause a tear. Individuals with Achilles tendinitis -- weak and inflamed tendons -- are also more susceptible to tendon tears.
Signs of a torn Achilles tendon include:
- Sudden, sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower leg
- Snapping or popping sensation at the time of the injury
- Swelling down the back side of the leg or near the heel
- Difficulty walking or rising up on the toes
The best treatment for a torn Achilles tendon is prevention. Avoiding this injury could save yourself months of rehab and extended time away from your game. Help prevent injury to your Achilles tendon by:
- stretching your calf muscles regularly
- limiting hill running and jumping activities that place excess stress on the Achilles tendons
- resting during exercise when you experience pain
- maintaining a healthy weight
- alternating high impact sports, such as running with low-impact sports, such as walking or biking
- wearing appropriate, supportive shoes with proper heel cushioning
If you suspect a ruptured Achilles tendon, visit our practice as soon as possible. Until you can seek professional care, avoid walking on the injured tendon and keep it elevated. Ice the affected area to reduce pain and swelling and, if possible, wrap the injured foot and ankle. For partial tears, swelling and pain may be less severe, but prompt treatment should still be administered.
Treatment for an Achilles tendon rupture can be surgical or non-surgical. Surgery to reattach the tendon is generally recommended, followed by rehabilitation, especially for individuals who want to return to recreational sports. Our pracitce can evaluate the severity of your tear and suggest the best treatment plan. With proper care, most people return to their former level of performance within six months.
How to Maximize Your Game with Good Foot Health
When it comes to exercise, your feet are one of the most overlooked parts of the body, enduring tremendous strain and stress during a hard workout. It's no surprise that an athlete's foot and ankle are prime candidates for injuries. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), poor foot care during physical activity is a contributing factor to some of the more than 300-foot ailments.
The following tips may help prevent foot and ankle injuries to keep you in the game.
Get a check-up
Visit our practice and your regular physician before starting any sport or fitness activity. This should include a complete foot and physical exam. During a foot exam, a podiatrist can identify whether your previously injured ankle is vulnerable to sprains, and recommend supportive ankle braces for increased stability.
Pre-workout warm up and stretch
Jogging before a competition or workout can help reduce the risk for foot and ankle injuries by warming up muscles, ligaments and blood vessels. Proper stretching before beginning a workout is also important. When muscles are properly stretched, the strain on joints, tendons and muscles is greatly reduced.
Treat foot and ankle injuries immediately
It's possible to injure bones in the foot or ankle without knowing it. What may seem like a sprain at the time may actually be a fracture. See a podiatrist at the first onset of ankle pain. The sooner you start treatment, the better your chance of preventing long-term problems like instability, and the sooner you can get back in the game.
Wear shoes specific to your sport
Different fitness programs require different footwear. Wearing the appropriate type of athletic shoe for your unique foot type and needs can help prevent foot problems while keeping you at your best performance. Remember to replace old, worn shoes in order to ensure optimal stability and support.
Pay attention to what your feet are telling you and remember to rest and consult our office when you first notice pain. Exercising is a great way to stay energized and fit, but if you're neglecting the health of your feet, you may be setting yourself up for serious injury.
With age, it’s not uncommon to experience pain and stiffness in your feet and ankles. Carefully monitoring your pain is important, however, as this noticeable discomfort could be an early indication of a more serious condition known as arthritis. Arthritis is a group of conditions that typically involves pain and inflammation in the joints. There are many types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis being the most common form. Left untreated, pain caused by arthritis will get worse, eventually leading to a joint weakness that can interfere with the most basic daily activities.
Arthritis can have a serious impact on the structure and function of your feet and ankles. See a podiatrist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Chronic pain or tenderness
- Limited mobility or motion
- Stiffness early in the day
- Changes in skin, including growths and rashes
Whenever you notice a change in your lower extremities, contact our podiatrists at our practice for a thorough evaluation. When detected early, proper treatment can slow the development of arthritis and get you back to your active lifestyle.
Treating Arthritis of the Foot and Ankle
Our practice can help you determine the best treatment option depending on the type and severity of your arthritis.
Treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections for the joint
- Shoe inserts, pads, braces or arch supports
- Physical therapy and exercise
- Custom-designed shoes
- Weight management
When arthritis doesn’t respond to conservative treatment, surgical intervention may be considered as the last resort.
A thorough evaluation of your health and type of arthritis will allow our podiatrists to recommend the best treatment plan for you. Arthritis is a disabling disease, but with early detection, you can help manage the pain associated with arthritis of the foot and ankle and maintain a healthy, fulfilling life. Allow our podiatrists to assess your foot and ankle pain and get you back on your feet.
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