Your Achilles Heel

In Greek mythology, Achilles had one vulnerable spot—his heel—because that’s where his mother held him when she dipped him into the River Styx. If your Achilles is giving you trouble, it’s not likely that’s the reason. The Achilles tendon is vulnerable, though, when you wear poor fitting shoes, suddenly overuse it, or strain it. Achilles tendonitis is considered and “overuse injury.” Athletes are especially susceptible when they quickly increase training without giving the body time to catch up to the increase in activity. Similarly, those who aren’t very active and suddenly increase activity can also be prone to problems.

What are the symptoms?

What are the treatments?

The term Achilles’ heel refers to a person’s weakness that could cause downfall or ruin.  It is interesting, because I have patients who refer to their posterior heel pain as “Achilles Heel.”  Although pain in the back of the heel could lead to ruined workouts or downfall in physical activity, that condition is a little different than Achilles’ heel.  It is likely posterior heel spur syndrome caused by calcaneal bursitis or Achilles tendonitis.

The Achilles tendon is a strong, fibrous band that connects the calf muscle to the heel. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac designed to limit friction between rubbing parts. When a bursa becomes inflamed, the condition is called bursitis. Calcaneal bursitis is an inflammation in the bursa behind the heel bone. This bursa normally limits friction where the thick fibrous Achilles tendon that runs down the back of the calf glides up and down behind the heel.  Signs and symptoms of posterior heel spur syndrome are pain or irritation to the back of the heel, swelling and redness, irritation from shoe gear, or pain when running or working out.  This is usually caused by overuse injuries, sudden or violent strain, poor fitting shoes, or degeneration with age.

Posterior heel pain can be debilitating and really disrupt normal activities of daily living, and new or established work-out regimens.  Treatment usually includes rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications.  If you have tried these treatments without resolution of your discomfort, call Dr. Rahn Ravenell and set up a comprehensive examination in our Mount Pleasant office.

If your Achilles is causing you pain or weakness, contact Dr. Rahn Ravennel at Coastal Podiatry to schedule an appointment immediately.

Author
Dr. Rahn A. Ravenell

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