What is an Achilles Strain?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2018
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An Achilles strain occurs when the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel of the foot becomes strained or inflamed. This inflammation is sometimes called Achilles tendinitis, though most people call it an Achilles strain. The band of tendons is particularly vital to the proper functioning of the leg during walking and running; if an Achilles strain occurs, a person may have difficulty walking or running, and they may experience pain that can last a significant amount of time. Treatment is usually fairly simple, though in cases of chronic Achilles pain, surgery may be necessary to remedy the problem.

Tendons are tissue within the body that connect muscles to bone. These tendons can become inflamed for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is overuse or improper use. Another cause of tendon inflammation is a lack of conditioning; people who do not exercise regularly are more at risk of an Achilles strain as well as strains in other parts of the body. If the Achilles strain is an isolated incident, a doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or recommend that the sufferer simply rest the legs for several days to allow the inflammation to disappear on its own.


More serious cases of an Achilles strain may require surgery, particularly if that pain is recurring. Damaged tendon tissue may need to be removed surgically to allow other tendons to heal and function properly. This is a rare case, however, as most tendinitis cases are relatively minor and can be treated with the RICE treatment: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. One may need to alter his or her daily routines or even his or her walking or running gait to help prevent Achilles pain from occurring in the future.

To avoid Achilles strain injuries in the future, one may consider wearing ankle braces, but again, this is usually not necessary if the person takes proper precautions. Stretching before and after exercise can help prevent strain in the Achilles tendon, and regularly exercising will help strengthen the muscles and tendons affected by such an injury. It may be necessary to change one's footwear as well, particularly if it is not particularly supportive of the arch of the foot or cushioned properly in the heel. Shoes can wear out after time, meaning less adequate support for the foot and the muscles and tendons that move it. One should be sure to buy new footwear when shoes wear out or, at the very least change the shoe's insoles regularly.



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