The Back of My Ankle Hurts! - Advanced Physical Medicine
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The Back of My Ankle Hurts!

There are many causes of ankle pain, but the purpose of this blog is to discuss Achilles tendon injuries.  The Achilles tendon is the structure that extends along the back of the leg from the knee to the back of the heel bone (calcaneus).  This is a very important structure and plays a vital role in the up and down movement of the ankle joint.  For example, it is critical for moving the brake and acceleration pedals when we drive.

As we are more active in the summer, injuries to the Achilles Tendon are more common.  Overuse injuries from hiking, running, or walking, can cause pain in the back of the heel or ankle, but also sudden or vigorous actions from basketball or other sports, can cause inflammation of the tendon. There may be inflammation of the tendon, also known as tendonitis, with pain and swelling, and this type of condition typically responds well to ice, rest, strapping, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, immobilization, and orthotic devices.     More chronic and also painful injuries to the tendon are called tendonosis and often do not include the acute inflammation.  Finally, the tendon may have a tear in it, which can cause severe pain, swelling, and difficulty with motion.  Tears can range from small microtears to large ruptures and are due to repetitive motion, poor biomechanics, or sudden injuries (falls, bad landings after jumping, twisting the ankle, and other causes).  Tears in the tendon require immobilization or surgery depending on the severity.

Conventional x-rays are taken for all of these injuries but only show bone injuries.  The Achilles tendon can only be adequately visualized with diagnostic ultrasound or MRI.

How can I protect my Achilles tendon?  Wall stretches with the knee bent and extended, supportive shoegear, and custom molded orthotic devices are great ways to protect the tendon.

If you think that you have injured your Achilles tendon or need a foot check up, contact Dr. Bender at Advanced Physical Medicine.  She practices at the Oak Park and Chicago/63rd locations.  Dr. Bender has been in practice since 2001 and treats all conditions of the foot and ankle.  708-763-0580 Oak Park and 773-776-3166 Chicago.

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