The causes of Achilles tendon irritation
The causes of Achilles tendon irritation are manifold. As a rule, however, the trigger is usually associated with overuse of the Achilles tendon. For example, people who do a lot of standing or heavy physical work are more prone to Achilles tendon irritation because they use their Achilles tendons more than average.
If the tendon is not fully adapted to the load, it can quickly become irritated. Permanent overuse leads to degenerative damage, which also manifests itself in the form of Achilles tendon irritation. A similarly high load is placed on the Achilles tendons if you permanently carry too much body weight around with you.
Overweight is therefore also a risk factor for Achilles tendon irritation and inflammation. The best tips for losing weight efficiently can be found in our article: Tips on how best to lose weight Otherwise, athletes, especially runners, are more likely to be affected by Achilles tendon irritation. As a rule, their Achilles tendons are well trained to cope with the strain, which is why they should not normally experience any complaints.
However, it is not uncommon for irritation of the Achilles tendon to occur, especially when the load situation changes. For example, buying new running shoes can lead to a slightly different load axis in the ankle joint. New jogging routes with an unusually unstable surface can also cause irritation of the Achilles tendon. In addition, athletes who increase their running load significantly in a short period of time are often affected by irritation of the Achilles tendon.
When will you be allowed to do sports again?
After an irritation of the Achilles tendon, sport may only be resumed once the symptoms have subsided. Before this, the Achilles tendon should be strengthened with stretching exercises and physiotherapeutic exercises. Only after approval by the responsible doctor or physiotherapist can a light sporting activity be resumed.
In the case of acute Achilles tendon inflammation, one usually assumes a complete sports break of two to three weeks. After about one month, full physical activity is possible again. Chronic irritations can last for several months.
This is how the diagnosis of Achilles tendon irritation is made
The diagnosis of Achilles tendon irritation can usually be made on the basis of the medical history and physical examination. The anamnesis asks about the pain as well as triggering factors. The examination can identify pressure pain, overheating and redness of the Achilles tendon as well as painful movement restrictions.
An ultrasound of the Achilles tendon should then be performed. In rare cases – especially in the case of particularly stubborn irritation of the Achilles tendon or suspected serious injury to the tendon – an MRI of the Achilles tendon should be performed. Ultrasound of the Achilles tendon is performed using a special ultrasound probe, which is able to display the structure of the tendon particularly well.
During the examination, the tendon is assessed from top to bottom and from left to right. In the event of irritation, water retention as well as structural brightening or darkening may be found. If it is a chronic Achilles tendon irritation, calcification of the tendon can also be detected.
These show up in the ultrasound as particularly bright (white) splashes. An MRI of the Achilles tendon is indicated above all if a serious cause of the complaints is suspected. If the medical history and the examination lead to suspicion of a tear or partial tear of the Achilles tendon, this suspicion must be confirmed immediately with an MRI or, in the best case, cleared up.
An MRI can also be performed in the case of prolonged irritation of the Achilles tendon. In this way, foci of inflammation can possibly be discovered or other causes identified that explain why the Achilles tendon irritation lasts so long. You can read in our article how a torn Achilles tendon should be treated correctly: Therapy of an Achilles tendon rupture