Achilles tendinitis is a common but potentially debilitating condition that affects people of all ages and activity levels. When left untreated, this condition can lead to many complications that could significantly impact your quality of life. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we can diagnose Achilles tendinitis and recommend various treatment options to ease your pain, so you can get back to the activities you enjoy. Leaving Achilles tendinitis untreated

Complications: When You Leave Achilles Tendinitis Untreated

If Achilles tendinitis isn’t treated, you can suffer many serious complications—one of the most severe is a complete tendon rupture. As the inflammation increases and degeneration progresses, the Achilles tendon weakens, making it more susceptible to a sudden, severe injury. An Achilles tendon rupture can result in excruciating pain, disability, and the need for surgical intervention to repair the damage. In some cases, full recovery may never be achieved. Additionally, there are other complications that result from untreated Achilles tendinitis, including:

Chronic Pain and Stiffness

Neglecting Achilles tendinitis can lead to the development of chronic pain and stiffness in the affected area. Over time, this can severely limit your ability to engage in physical activities, affecting your overall quality of life and potentially leading to other health issues.

Tendinosis

When inflammation persists without proper treatment, it can transition into Achilles tendinosis. Achilles tendinosis is a degenerative condition where the tendon becomes thickened, disorganized, and weakened. It may lead to long-term pain and reduced functionality.

Increased Risk of Falls

The Achilles tendon plays a crucial role in stabilizing your ankle and foot. When compromised by tendinitis, your risk of falling and sustaining other injuries increases. Untreated tendinitis can be especially problematic for older adults, as falls can result in severe fractures and other complications.

Impact on Daily Activities

Those with untreated Achilles tendinitis may find it difficult to participate in daily activities that involve walking, running, or even standing for extended periods. This can affect your job, hobbies, and social life.

Recognizing Early Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis

Early detection and intervention are crucial in preventing complications from Achilles tendinitis. The following are some common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis:

Pain and Tenderness

The most prominent sign is pain and tenderness in the back of the ankle, just above the heel. This discomfort is usually worse during physical activities or in the morning when you wake up.

Stiffness

You may notice stiffness in the Achilles tendon, which can make it challenging to flex your foot or point your toes.

Swelling

Inflammation can cause noticeable swelling around the Achilles tendon.

Weakened Calf Muscles

The calf muscles, which are connected to the Achilles tendon, may become weaker over time if tendinitis isn’t treated.

Audible Creaking or Crackling

In some cases, you may hear creaking or crackling sounds when you move your ankle, indicative of tendon degeneration.

Types of Achilles Tendinitis Treatments

Achilles tendinitis is a treatable condition, especially when detected early. At Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists, we offer a comprehensive range of treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Some common treatments for Achilles tendinitis include:

Rest and Activity Modification

In the early stages of Achilles tendinitis, rest and activity modification are often recommended to reduce stress on the tendon. This might involve taking a break from strenuous activities and opting for low-impact exercises.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists can design a personalized exercise program to strengthen the calf muscles, improve flexibility, and promote healing of the Achilles tendon.

Custom Orthotics

Your podiatrist may recommend using custom orthotics inside your shoes to provide extra support and alleviate stress on the Achilles tendon.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation in the short term.

Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, your Austin podiatrist may recommend corticosteroid injections to relieve pain and inflammation.

Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology

Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT) is a non-invasive procedure approved by the FDA that involves using acoustic pressure waves to stimulate the healing of the Achilles tendon.

Surgery

When conservative treatments do not provide relief, or in cases of severe tendon damage, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery can involve removing damaged tissue, repairing tears, or lengthening the Achilles tendon to reduce tension.

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