It’s no exaggeration to say that every step you take involves your Achilles tendon, which is the largest tendon in your body. This connective tissue connects your calf muscle to your heel to help propel you through the world.
Given its importance in your ability to move around, you want to make sure your Achilles tendon is healthy, which means recognizing the early signs of a problem so you can take swift action.
As general orthopaedic specialists, the team here at Western Orthopaedics has a good deal of experience with foot and ankle problems, including Achilles tendon injuries.
In this month’s blog post, we’re going to spend some time discussing Achilles tendon injuries and three signs that your tendon may be in trouble, so you can seek our care before the injury worsens.
Common Achilles tendon problems
Before we get into potential signs of a problem, let’s take a look at the more common Achilles tendon injuries, which includes:
- Achilles tendonitis: Small tears develop in the tendon due to overuse and also leave it vulnerable to more damage.
- Achilles tendon tear: This usually occurs during an acute trauma and leads to a partial tear in the connective tissues.
- Achilles tendon rupture: This describes a complete tear in your Achilles tendon, which tends to affect weekend warriors in their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
No matter what has occurred in your Achilles tendon, the signs are often similar.
Recognizing the signs
Whether you’re dealing with tendonitis, a partial tear, or a complete rupture in your Achilles tendon, the symptoms can be similar and include:
As with most orthopaedic injuries, pain is often the first, and most obvious, sign of a problem. With your Achilles tendon, the pain is usually around the back of your ankle and heel and it can come and go with activity.
The severity of the pain is often a good indicator of the extent of the damage — an inconsistent ache might point toward tendonitis while sudden and severe pain can indicate a complete rupture.
If you develop swelling around your ankle, that’s always a clear sign that something is wrong. This swelling often gets worse during the day the more you’ve been on your feet, and it can lead to stiffness in the joint.
3. Difficulty with flexion
If you’re having trouble pointing your toes or standing up on your tiptoes, this is one symptom that narrows the ankle problem down to your Achilles tendon.
We want to add that, if you heard or felt a pop in your ankle and you experience a sudden onset of symptoms, the odds are fairly good that you’ve ruptured your Achilles tendon.
The best way to figure out what’s behind your ankle symptoms is to come see us for an evaluation. It’s important to get early help for Achilles tendon injuries so the tissue can heal correctly and you can move around more soundly again.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of Achilles tendon injuries, please contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to schedule an appointment with one of our foot and ankle specialists.