What is an Achilles tendon irritation?
Achilles tendon irritation is an irritation of the tendon that connects the calf muscle with the heel. The Achilles tendon is one of the thickest and strongest tendons in the human body. It absorbs energy with every step and releases it like a spring when the foot is pushed off.
Overloading in particular can lead to irritation of this tendon. This usually makes itself felt through pain and can develop into an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The therapy of the Achilles tendon irritation consists primarily of a strict ban on sports as well as a significant reduction of physical strain.
Especially people who are physically demanding work should be put on sick leave for several weeks. Sport should be avoided for at least two to three weeks. During this time, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken.
The affected lower leg should be cooled and raised if possible. In addition, relief, for example with a bandage or orthosis, can immobilize or additionally stabilize the ankle joint. In this way, the Achilles tendon is not stressed too much.
Once the acute pain phase has subsided, small stabilisation and stretching exercises can be performed. However, this should only be done in consultation with doctors and physiotherapists, otherwise there is a risk of overstraining the Achilles tendon. After approval by the treating doctors and physiotherapists, the exercises can also be performed at home.
In addition, the blood circulation and metabolism of the Achilles tendon can be stimulated by massage, electro-ultrasound or laser therapy. Thus the body is better able to defend itself against the irritation. If these conservative measures do not lead to the desired healing, an operation of the Achilles tendon is indicated in rare cases.
What is meant by electrotherapy and how it works is explained in detail in our appropriate article: How electrotherapy worksFor the Achilles tendon irritation, various bandages are used. They all have in common that they support the ankle joint and thus relieve the Achilles tendon. Most bandages are made of elastic material, which allows compression of the tissue around the Achilles tendon.
This prevents swelling and water retention. In addition, the bandages usually have a pad that rests on the Achilles tendon. Depending on the model, this can be firmer or softer, some pads are fitted with knobs.
The aim of the pads is to apply a light massage to the Achilles tendon with every step. This improves the blood circulation and stimulates the metabolism, which helps the Achilles tendon to regenerate itself more easily. To additionally relieve the Achilles tendon, most supports come with a heel wedge.
This can either be inserted into the bandage or directly into the shoe. This wedge causes the foot to stand slightly on tiptoe with every step. This way the Achilles tendon is stretched less, thus relieving it more.
When using the heel wedge, it is important to wear this wedge on both sides, otherwise the leg length will vary and the load will vary accordingly. In case of an Achilles tendon irritation, the ankle joint can be taped instead of a bandage. At the beginning of the disease it is useful to tap the ankle joint quite tightly to ensure sufficient stability.
The stable (usually white) tape is used for this. Later, when sufficient stability in the ankle joint has been trained, flexible kinesiotape can be used. This is applied at certain positions so that it supports the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles in their pull. In this way, some of the strength can be taken from the Achilles tendon, even if the foot is already being used properly during sport.