After hectic holiday travels, shopping hurdles and trail runs in the unseasonably warm weather in Columbus lately, foot and ankle pains may begin piling up. The Achilles tendon is the largest, and one of the most injury plagued tendons in the body. Runners, weekend warriors, and athletes in almost any sport may develop any one of the many disorders that can plague the Achilles tendon at various times in their sporting career.
Achilles tendonitis often occurs at the attachment of the Achilles tendon to the back and sides of the heel bone. Pain is felt along the back of the heel and a bony bump may also be felt in the area of pain. This condition is typically caused by repetitive microtraumas that cause enough irritation to the tendon to induce its degradation. Eventually, the tendon attachment may develop calcifications that potentiate the process of irritation and further predispose to the Achilles’ rupture. Luckily, in most cases, if diagnosed before extensive calcifications have developed, Achilles tendonitis can be successfully treated without surgery. Conservative means used to treat tendonitis of the Achilles exert their effect by relieving the stress placed on the tendon and working to decrease inflammation.
A pump bump, or Haglund’s deformity may also be identified as an underlying source of chronic irritation to the Achilles tendon. This pump bump is an outgrowth of bone on the upper back portion of the heel bone that can serve as a source of microtrauma by regularly jabbing into the tendon. In cases of tendonitis with a pump bump, surgery may be needed to remove the aggravating portion of bone.
Further imaging studies, including an MRI, may be needed to achieve the most accurate diagnosis in painful Achilles disorders. A growth or tumor may develop in the tendon that can also trigger an inflammatory process. Xanthomas are a lump of cholesterol that can develop in the Achilles tendon in individuals with high cholesterol. These lumps are benign, other than possibly causing tendon irritation, but need to be diagnosed to rule out other more dangerous growths.
Athletic shoe choices may also play a role in the prevention or development of Achilles disorders. Switching from running in a stability shoe with a lot of cushion to a barefoot style shoe may aggravate an already irritated tendon by suddenly increasing tension on the tendon if the runner continues to run in a heel-to-toe fashion. However, it is believed that running in a forefoot or midfoot strike pattern in a minimalist shoe may actually help prevent Achilles irritation. Forefoot running has this effect because when a runner lands on their forefoot with each stride, the calf muscles are placed under less tension with the heel elevated instead of striking the ground first. Before making the transition to any new running shoe, be sure to talk to your podiatrist about what the impact may be on your foot and ankle.
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.
Columbus Podiatry & Surgery has opened a new location in Gahanna, near Easton. Please call 614-476-3338 (FEET) for an appointment with a podiatrist in Gahanna, OH today.