Achilles tendinitis

  • Overview: The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to the heel bone and is vital in running, walking and jumping. Achilles tendinitis involves the inflammation of the tendon, causing swelling, pain and irritation. This condition may present itself as Noninsertional (where the fibers in the middle of the tendon begin to break down) or Insertional (occurring where the tendon inserts to the heel bone). Symptoms may include swelling and pain and stiffness along the back of the heel, intensifying after activity.
  • Cause: Achilles tendinitis is caused by repetitive stress to and overuse of the tendon, including: a sudden increase in intensity of activity, tight calf muscles, and bone spurs on the attachment point of tendon to heel bone. Athletes at highest risk of sustaining this injury include runners, cyclists, football, basketball and tennis players.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Diagnosis will include a doctor’s examination of the foot and ankle (looking for signs of swelling and thickening of the tendon, tenderness, and bone spurs). Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans may be used to evaluate the injury and plan surgery, if necessary. Nonsurgical treatment options are successful in most cases of Achilles tendinitis, though the athlete may still have pain for three or more months. The RICE method, physical therapy exercises, and orthotics can help heal the injury and strengthen the tendon. Surgical treatment is used to repair the tendon if the pain does not improve after six months of nonsurgical treatment options.

Ankle sprain

  • Overview: Ankle sprains account for nearly half of all sports-related injuries. This type of injury occurs to one or more ligaments that hold together the anklebones. While ankle sprains can be sustained in medial and high positions, most occur laterally or on the outer ankle. Common symptoms are swelling, pain, bruising and ankle instability, and some athletes may feel numbness or weakness if a nerve injury is also present.
  • Cause: An inward rolling of the ankle most frequently causes ankle sprains. In sports, this is commonly experienced while running, jumping or pivoting.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment: If you think you have sprained your ankle, seek medical attention immediately. Your physician will do a physical exam and possibly X-rays and MRIs for further evaluation. Ankle sprains will be categorized as either Grade I (mild), Grade II (moderate) or Grade III (severe). Initial treatment includes the RICE method to reduce swelling and pain. Bracing, taping and anti-inflammatory medicine may also be used. Rehabilitation is crucial to healing an ankle sprain.

Plantar fasciitis

  • Overview: Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the tissue (plantar fascia) that supports the arch of the foot, causing pain on the bottom of the heel.
  • Cause: When too much stress is placed on the feet, it can tear tissue. Tighter calf muscles, a high arch, repeated impact activity or performing new activities could all put an athlete at risk of sustaining plantar fasciitis.
  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Initially, your physician will evaluate your symptoms and foot for signs of plantar fasciitis. Nonsurgical treatment usually helps improve the condition within 10 months. Exercises (including calf and other stretches), supportive shoes and orthotics, and physical therapy can help heal the condition. X-rays and other imaging tests may be used if initial treatment is not successful, possibly leading to surgical treatment.

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