Our Achilles tendons are the largest tendons in our bodies, and for good reason, because they help to handle an immense amount of strain when we walk, run and jump. Even though the tendons located in the back of your ankle are big and strong, they can weaken as a result of trauma or injury, and if the area eventually becomes overloaded with stress, the tendon can rupture.
Sometimes this tendon ruptures with no warning sign as a result of being exposed to an acute moment to pressure or trauma. Other times the body gives us some warning signs that indicate there is a lingering issue in your Achilles tendon that you’ll want to address. Below, we take a closer look at five signs that suggest your Achilles tendon may be close to tearing.
Symptoms Of An Achilles Tendon Problem
While the following symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you’re moments away from tearing your Achilles tendon, oftentimes these symptoms are present in patients with inflammation and microtearing in the tendon, both of which put you at an increased risk of a tendon tear.
- Chronic, Dull Pain – A dull but ever-present pain in the back of your heel is a telltale sign of a problem with your Achilles tendon. Even if the problem causing discomfort isn’t located in the Achilles itself, pain is a sign of dysfunction somewhere in the area, and if that changes how stress is dispersed on the tendon or forces it to handle additional pressure, it could end up making the tendon susceptible to rupture.
- Swelling – Swelling suggests that something is causing an inflammatory reaction in the area, and prolonged inflammation of the Achilles tendon can increase your risk of a tear. Swelling could also be indicative of a different problem like diabetes, but if swelling is present after an extended period on your feet, it could impact the health of your Achilles.
- Stiffness – Stiffness or tightness in the Achilles is also a warning sign that there may be an issue with the tendon. Oftentimes these symptoms can be the result of microtears in the Achilles or inflammation that hinders normal tendon movement, which as we’ve talked about above, can be a precursor to a tendon tear.
- Impeded Gait – If you find that you’re hobbling, limping or just walking with an inhibited gait because your body is inherently trying to take pressure off the Achilles tendon, you may be dealing with microtearing or even a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon. As the rest of the foot attempts to take on a greater role to help protect the Achilles, you can feel more clumsy or less fluid on your feet. It’s a sign that you should work to strengthen your Achilles tendon.
- New Blisters and Calluses – A final and oftentimes more subtle issue that may point to a problem with your Achilles is the formation of new blisters on your feet. Again, this goes back to the above point about how your body can work to protect the Achilles if it senses a problem. If your foot is attempting to protect the Achilles from strain, pressure will be dispersed differently across your foot as your stride and foot strike pattern changes. This can lead to the formation of new blisters and calluses. Again, these foot developments could be linked to other factors, but don’t overlook the connection between blister development and your Achilles tendon.
If you’re dealing with any of the above issues, or you want to talk with a foot specialist about some ways you can work to strengthen your Achilles tendon to avoid a full blown rupture, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.