This tendon is large and strong. The tendon is made up of thousands of individual tendon fibers. Think of the tendon fibers as similar to the fibers that make up a rope or a steel cable.
Achilles tendonitis is inflammation and pain of the tendon that connects the muscles in the calf to the heel bone.
What causes Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is the result of microscopic tearing of some tiny individual tendon strands. This happens as result of both normal activity and strenuous activities.
In a young individual the healing capability of the Achilles tendon is very robust. Microscopic tears of the Achilles tendon in a young person generally heal quickly without treatment.
As we age our bodies natural healing ability of microscopic tearing in the Achilles tendon is limited by a natural decrease in the circulation of the area of the tendon where tendonitis is most commonly seen. This can result in tendon pain and swelling that can last months and even years. Natural healing can be slow and sometimes completely halted.
What does Achilles tendonitis feel like?
Achilles tendonitis causes localized pain somewhere along the portion of the tendon from the bottom of the calf muscle to its attachment to the back of the heel bone. Patients can usually press firmly with their finger and trigger the pain. A lot of times the tendon looks swollen when compared to the tendon of the other leg.
How is Achilles tendonitis diagnosed?
Achilles tendonitis can be diagnosed with the information provided by the patient’s history combined with the physical examination conducted by a skilled examiner such as an orthopedic surgeon. Imaging studies such as x-ray or MRI scan are sometimes beneficial but are rarely needed to accurately diagnose Achilles tendinitis.
How is Achilles tendonitis treated?
- Activity modification
- Home exercises
- Physical therapy
- Medications (taken by mouth or topical medications)
- Platelet rich plasma therapy
Platelet rich plasma treatment has the potential to accelerate a stalled natural healing response in an Achilles tendon. It can result in the stimulation of natural healing of a partial tear of the Achilles tendon that has failed to heal.
It is vitally important that platelet rich plasma treatment of an Achilles tendon be done with proper placement of the platelet rich plasma. The procedure requires that the area of treatment be numbed. Dr. Jernigan is able to do this by using his knowledge and skill of regional numbing and ultrasound guidance to properly target the platelet rich plasma. To succeed the platelet rich plasma must be correctly placed in the Achilles tendon. This is critical to success.