The Achilles tendon connects your calf to your heel bone. This tendon is one of the strongest tendons in your body, and yet also one that we at Long Island Foot & Ankle Group, PC treat frequently for injuries. This tendon helps you lift your heel off the ground—an action necessary for walking and running.
A tear to the tendon can be partial or complete—depending on the extent of the injury. A full rupture can occur with a sudden, forceful movement that exerts downward resistance, such as taking off for a sprint or pushing off for a basketball jump. More minor tears can be the result of repetitive stress to the tendon such as running stairs or hills or dramatically increasing the duration or intensity of your workout.
Are You at Risk?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of an Achilles tear:
- Having flat feet
- Systemic illness, such as diabetes, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- Age—most often seen in patients between the ages of 30 and 50
- Tight calf muscles
- Certain medications like steroids and some antibiotics
If you completely tear your Achilles tendon, you may hear a popping sound or feel a snap at the moment the rupture occurs. If you have inflamed the tendon and the tears are more minor, you may experience fatigue or sluggishness in the leg, soreness anywhere along the tendon and pain in the lower leg that is particularly bad when you first get up or after a period of rest.
Play it Safe
Of course, some risk factors, such as your age, you cannot control. But there are ways to lessen your chances of damaging your Achilles tendon. These include:
- Start your exercise routine or new sport slowly if you have been inactive for a period of time
- Work up to a more intense workout gradually
- Make sure you stretch before and after exercise
- Wear shoes that fit properly, provide adequate support and cushioning and are designed for the activity you are doing
- Stop when you experience pain
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your lower leg and calf, contact our Valley Stream (516) 825-4070 or Lake Success (516) 327-0074 office for an appointment. Our podiatrists, Dr. Russell Caprioli, Dr. Mary Ann Bilotti, Dr. John Haight or Dr. Marzana Mleczko will examine your legs and feet and determine the proper course of treatment to relieve pain and prevent further damage.