By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute
Trouble with the Achilles tendon is often caused by an overload and appears as pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon. The condition gradually improves by relief, ordinarily; it can take from several days to weeks. You general practitioner can prescribe medication and/or refer to a physiotherapist. In rare cases, an orthopaedic surgeon can perform an operation on the Achilles tendon.
Pain and swelling on the back of the heel and up the Achilles tendon are signs of overload and irritation of the tendon. Both young and elder people can be affected by the condition. With older people, the strength of the Achilles tendon decreases and therefore it is more easily overloaded. With young people the overload arise from a change in the level of activity, wrong footwear, exercise on hard foundation or in a cold climate. Trouble with the Achilles tendon is also often seen with people who are flat-footed.
Typically, the pain starts in connection with the physical activity (e.g. running). The pain decreases some, following a short period of activity and is subsequently worsened. Stiffness in the Achilles tendon appears hours to days after an overload. In advanced cases, it is also painful during rest. The Achilles tendon can feel thickened and sore.
Relief gradually improves the condition; usually it takes from several days to weeks. Through continued overload, a chronic condition develops that can lead to rupture of the Achilles tendon.