Achilles tendon: Why the pain on heels shouldn't be ignored

achilles-heel
Achilles tendon is the most common tendon which sustains injuries.
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Do you have pain on the heels? It is a grave error to ignore it – your Achilles tendon could need attention. Achilles tendon is a firm, fibrous cord that connects the back of the calf to the heel bone in human beings. Achilles tendon is the strongest and largest tendon in the human body. (A tendon is a non-elastic cord of strong, fibrous collagen tissue which attaches a bone to a muscle in the human body).

The Achilles tendon is the physiological entity which helps one stand on a toe or point one’s feet at something. But Achilles tendon is the most common tendon which sustains injuries. Increasingly, the elderly have been getting Achilles tendon injuries as they take part in sporting activities or engage in excess physical work. Such injuries are called acute rupture.

Who are susceptible

More and more athletes are undergoing open surgeries to fix the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon injury is common in cricket and basketball players and is often the product of vigorous limb activity.

People with excess body weight, sportsmen, those with high blood pressure are more susceptible to Achilles tendon injuries.

Indicators

Acute pain in the tendon are – like a bullet injury or as if pounded with a stone or hard object.

There could be a sound – that of a rupture

There could be a separation in the tendon, some 2 inches above the heel

There could be fatigue apart from the pain, swelling, and uneasiness

The pain may subside in between and one may be able to stand on the toe and point the feet

Subsequently, there could be difficulty in taking strides

Diagnosis

Achilles tendon injuries can be ascertained clinically. Sometimes, MRI and ultrasound scans are also used. The outcome is better if treatment is started early on. Surgery is also done. It creates a scar 10-15 cm long on the leg. The leg is secured with plaster for three months after the surgery. The loss of work days is a major issue associated with surgery. The death of skin tissues and infections in 20-30% of patients are also reported.

Doctors have been using the less incisive percutaneous approach. This is not an open surgery but incisions are made and staples used to put the tendon in place. In this technique, the skin issues are reduced to one per cent, doctors say. Also, the recuperation time is as low as four weeks.

Things to remember

If one has a tendon issue, do not bear weight or exert excessively.

The use of ice-packs immediately after the injury is known to reduce swelling

Ice-packs may be used for 20 minutes and it reduces pain a great deal

Use elastic band-aid to secure the tendon. This reduces swelling.

Keep the feet on a raised platform.

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