Achilles tendinosis is a common issue affecting the Achilles tendon. It is sad to note that many individuals and even doctors confuse Achilles tendinosis and Achilles tendonitis. When it comes to Achilles tendinosis, it is a long-lasting condition characterized by microscopic tears of the Achilles tendon. On the other hand, Achilles tendonitis develops once there is acute swelling of the tendon. Differentiating these conditions apart is vital so that proper treatment can be started.
Difference between inflammation and degeneration
Achilles tendonitis is characterized by inflammation or swelling of the Achilles tendon. The inflammation is often an acute change usually due to abrupt injury and indicated by redness, swelling, pain and warmth. A common indication of Achilles tendonitis is crepitus which is a grinding sensation felt upon placing the hand over a moving tendon.
As for Achilles tendinosis, it is an entirely different condition that involves thickening of the tendon. In most cases, there is no warmth or redness of the neighboring soft tissues but the area can be painful to the touch. Remember that it is a chronic issue in which it develops in a gradual manner and lasts for a long period. If examined using a microscope, the inflammatory cells are absent although there is long-lasting damage and microscopic rips on the tendon.
When an X-ray of the ankle joint is taken, it usually appears normal but it is possible to see small calcified deposits or bone spurs surrounding the tendon which are signs of chronic inflammation. An MRI might be requested which can reveal microscopic tearing or deterioration along with thickening of the damaged part of the tendon.
Take note that it is vital to differentiate between tendinosis and tendonitis since the treatment for both differ. When it comes to Achilles tendinosis, the treatment aims to minimize the inflammation.
Management of Achilles tendinosis
Even though the treatment for Achilles tendinosis and tendonitis are somewhat similar, they are not the same. It is vital to note that since Achilles tendinosis does not trigger inflammation, the measures that are aimed on reducing the inflammation are not useful. With this in mind, anti-inflammatory medications and application of ice used to treat the symptoms linked with the condition are not actually fighting the inflammation.
The effective treatment measures of Achilles tendinosis include shoe inserts, stretching and therapeutic exercises. The exercises that emphasize on eccentric contraction of the Achilles tendon are highly effective in stimulating the healing of the impaired region of the tendon. The eccentric contracts are executed by contracting the muscle tendon while also providing a lengthening force.