Ask most people who have experienced Achilles tendonitis, and they will remark about the constant pain and discomfort that it causes, as well as wishing they had taken steps to mitigate this injury. With our feet and ankles being responsible for carrying us about daily and doing various activities, it is essential to learn some tips about taking better care of them and improving our overall well-being. Read on to learn more about what Achilles tendonitis is, the treatments available and preventive measures, and how podiatry clinics in Singapore are able to help.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis refers to the injury and inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which is the fibrous band of tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. The Achilles tendon, while resilient, can still get injured just like any other muscle in your body through overuse and strain, leading to inflammation and pain in the tendon.
While Achilles tendonitis most commonly occurs in runners and cross-country athletes due to their intense footwork and training, it can also occur to less fit individuals who push the intensity and duration of exercise beyond their body’s coping ability, or in middle-aged persons who may overstrain themselves with irregular exercise.
Other causes include inappropriate footwear, lack of proper stretching before exercise, or training constantly across soft to hard surfaces. In addition, other factors such as obesity, genetic disposition, age, as well as a history of other illnesses, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can increase the likelihood of developing Achilles tendonitis.
How do you know if you have Achilles tendonitis, as opposed to simply feeling muscle ache after a tiring workout or playing sports? Here are some commonly experienced symptoms:
- Mild aching above your heel after engaging in sporting activities
- Stiffness of the back of your leg, along your Achilles tendon
- Tenderness in the heel area every morning
- Swelling or thickening of your tendon
If experiencing these symptoms for a prolonged period, it is essential to avoid engaging in repetitive or intense activities. This is because further deterioration of the Achilles tendon can lead to chronic conditions, such as reduced flexibility, thickening of scar tissue, and in severe cases even rupture and tear the tendon. With the potential for incapacitating your movement, it is essential to visit a podiatry centre in Singapore to avoid that outcome.
How do podiatrists treat Achilles Tendonitis?
Fortunately, Achilles tendonitis treatment is well-established in Singapore. A skilled podiatrist in Singapore will have extensive experience in treating footand ankle conditions, ranging from diagnosis to treatment. Here are the ways that podiatrists can do so.
Diagnosis is the first step to assessing how severe your condition is, and it includes a variety of tests to accurately help podiatrists plan out your treatment. Here’s what you can expect at a podiatry clinic in Singapore:
Physical examination– The podiatrist will get you to sit on the bed before gently pressing on the affected area to assess pain and tenderness. The podiatrist will also conduct simple tests, such as getting you to stand on your feet and do simple movements to assess your motion and flexibility.
X-ray– An X-ray may be required to help podiatrists rule out other underlying conditions that may cause pain in your foot. This is because some symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, such as pain in the lower heel, overlap with those of plantar fasciitis, which would require a different treatment plan.
Ultrasound– Ultrasound scans use sound waves to produce a visualisation for podiatrists. It is particularly effective due to its real-time nature, allowing podiatrists to see movement, ruptures of the tendon, as well as the state of inflammation.
MRI-Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, uses radio waves and powerful magnetic fields to create highly detailed images of your Achilles tendon. It can be considered as an alternative diagnostic tool to ultrasound scans, particularly when its higher resolution is required for a more accurate diagnosis.
Once your podiatrist has determined the severity of your condition, they can come up with an individualised Achilles tendonitis treatment plan, dependent on the intensity and persistence of the symptoms you present. While many people who experience foot pain shrug it off with painkillers, they merely mask the problem instead of addressing the root cause, as these treatments do. Here are some of the available treatment options:
RICE method – Used to treat Achilles tendonitis upon a fresh injury, such as immediately visiting a podiatric centre in Singapore after a sports strain, RICE refers to Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation. It focuses on reducing strain and inflammation, as well as reducing the swelling and blood flow to negate long-term damage and injury to the tendon. Painkillers are often prescribed alongside to improve the well-being of the person.
Physical therapy– A recommended podiatrist in Singapore will prescribe various focused stretching and strengthening exercises, to help both your Achilles tendon regain strength and build up the other muscles in your legs. Examples include calf stretches, along with sitting and standing heel raises.
Orthotic devices– A commonly prescribed treatment for a myriad of foot conditions, podiatrists will also provide orthotics to ease your daily movement. They are custom-fitted shoe inserts or wedges that elevate your heel and reduce strain on your tendon. Orthotics also cushion your Achilles tendon, keeping it aligned, as well as improving overall function.
Surgery-For severe cases, surgery is an option of last resort for repairing a ruptured tendon. This is only considered if the previous treatments have demonstrated limited efficacy or if the condition of Achilles tendonitis is heavily comorbid with other foot conditions.
Preventing Achilles tendonitis
Podiatry clinics in Singapore will also provide invaluable advice to prevent the return of Achilles tendonitis. They include warming up properly before any form of exercising, incorporating strength training that focuses on building balance and strengthening your tendon, investing in proper footwear for exercise, as well as eating healthily and having proper sleep.
Sticking to a disciplined regime can greatly heighten your quality of life, allowing you to continue engaging in sporting activities with friends and family. Also, seeking follow-up reviews with a reputable podiatry clinic in Singapore helps you track your progress and alter your regime if necessary.
Looking for a recommended podiatrist in Singapore? Receive quality consultation and treatment at ECPC today!