The Achilles tendon represents the attachment of the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can be exposed to great stress during various sports and is therefore often the source of sports injuries and chronic diseases. Runners or people who start with intensive training during a previously unfamiliar sporting activity of the legs usually suffer from an Achilles tendon inflammation.
Excessive strain of long duration, which includes both uniform movement as in long-distance running, and short periods of strain as in various ball sports, can lead to degeneration of the Achilles tendon. A rapid increase in training intensity, a lack of regeneration phases, improperly performed exercises and wearing the wrong footwear can lead to even the smallest injuries to the Achilles tendon, which then reacts with a chronic inflammatory process. Orthopaedic problems such as foot malpositions, different leg lengths and heel injuries also favour the occurrence of Achilles tendon inflammation.
How long does an Achilles tendonitis last?
The duration until complete recovery from an Achilles tendon inflammation depends on the severity of the disease, the physical condition of the patient, the therapy applied and the consistent adherence to the sparing. In general, a long ignored Achilles tendonitis with continued training leads to a more persistent and difficult to treat clinical picture when the disease persists. The worse the physical constitution of the patient, the later therapy measures take effect and the longer the duration of treatment.
Within the first one to two days, the acutely inflamed Achilles tendon is cooled with ice. A self-treatment of the Achilles tendon inflammation with conservative methods (sparing, possibly cooling, NSAID) should be carried out for two weeks initially. If there is no improvement in the symptoms after this period, it is recommended to consult an orthopaedic specialist.
After six to eight weeks, the affected Achilles tendon is resilient again. However, it is important to ensure that training is not continued for the duration of the therapy and that the affected extremity is relieved. Failure to take the strain off can lead to a renewed deterioration in the symptoms and significantly prolong the duration of the disease.
In individual cases, months can pass when an Achilles tendon inflammation heals. In order to avoid this, a running training should be interrupted, for example, until complete freedom from pain, even if this delays the achievement of personal training goals. A complaint lasting more than six months is called chronic.
In up to 25% of cases, those affected have long-lasting or frequently recurring problems over time. Isolated studies even show that 10% of patients with Achilles tendonitis need surgery within eight years after the onset of the disease. Surgical measures can never achieve a permanent restoration of full function of the Achilles tendon. In summary, it can be said that the duration of Achilles tendonitis, which is experienced by the affected person as unpleasant and sometimes severely restricting, can be limited to a period of approximately one and a half months by adequate cooling and protection in the acute phase, observing a generous training break and optimal medication with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and the probability of the occurrence of long-lasting complaints and chronic courses can be reduced.