Common Disorders of the Achilles Tendon

Foot Facts

  • Each foot has 26 bones
  • There are more than 100 ligaments in each foot
  • Diabetes is the #1 cause for lower extremety amputation
  • A toenail takes 4-9 months to completely grow out
  • Pain in the feet is NOT normal

Surgery: YES OR NO????

  • Deciding whether or not to have surgery is a big decision. 
  • Our foot and ankle surgeons are skilled in both surgical and conservative options. 
  • We will present the options most suitable for you and help you with your decision.

How much pain should I be in before I make an appointment?

  • Foot pain is not normal.
  • Foot pain is a signal that something is not right.
  • Any degree of foot pain warrants an evaluation to determine the source of the pain and possible treatment options.
  • Most foot pain left untreated will get worse and become more difficult to cure.
  • If you have foot or ankle  pain, make an appointment, do not wait.

Will soaking cure my ingrown toenail?

  • Soaking an ingrown toenail will often make it feel better, but it will not cure it. 
  • The symptoms of an ingrown toenail include pain, redness, and swelling.
  • An ingrown toenail is easily cured with a simple in office surgical procedure. 
  • The toe is anesthetized so that pain is not felt during the procedure.
  • The ingrown nail, or portion of the nail, is removed.
  • Most people feel no pain afterwards and return to normal activities the next day. 

What are orthotics?

  • Custom made foot arch supports designed to hold the foot in its optimum position
  • Can alleviate the discomfort caused by a number of foot conditions such as heel pain, bunions, and flat feet. 

Happy Feet...Happy Bride

happyComfortable footwear can help make the perfect day even better. Many times foot or ankle discomfort can be alleviated with appropriate shoes. It is not unusual for people to buy shoes that are too small for their feet. If your foot problem has an easy solution, our podiatrists will gladly provide you with that information. Sometimes the right shoe is not enough and custom-made orthotics is necessary to help the feet maintain the best position. Our podiatrists can utilize a three dimensional digital scan to have custom made inserts (orthotics) fabricated for your shoes, made from the scan of your feet to correct your specific foot abnormality and fit your feet only. If your foot or ankle problem can be resolved with conservative treatment, our podiatrists will advise you of the best treatment for you. There are times when the best solution for a foot or ankle problem is surgery. If you require foot or ankle surgery, our podiatrists can provide you with the latest state of the art surgical techniques. They will take the time to explain to you what to expect before, during and after surgery and will try to answer all your questions. Whatever your foot or ankle problem may be, our podiatrists will explain the various treatment options available to you. Everyone is happier when their feet are happy!

Thoughts on Celebrating 30+ Years

anniversarySome thoughts from Dr. Jacoby:
On April 30, 1984 I took over this podiatry practice. Elgin became my professional home as well as my personal home. I am forever grateful to Dr. Roger Hess who started this practice 50 years prior. Dr. Hess was a gentleman whom I admired and emulated both professionally and personally. I am forever honored to continue caring for the patients who initially trusted Dr. Hess.

My first office was at 860 Summit on the East Side of Elgin. I remember painting the office myself. I moved twice into larger space at 860 Summit. Eventually we outgrew the space there and moved to larger space at the Sherman Hospital Medical Building and then finally here to 750 Fletcher. I am grateful to the multitude of patients we have had the privilege of treating and that have kept us growing. I am also grateful to the multitude of other physicians in the area whom I am so privileged to work with.

Not only has this practice grown in physical space, but we have grown technologically as we offer many state of the art alternatives.  My staff has been and continues to be essential.  To all my staff, both past and present, I say a most sincere Thank You.

I look back on the years with much pride and sentimentality. I look forward to the future with the same enthusiasm and joy I felt on April 30, 1984. I love what I do and every day I realize how blessed I am to be in this wonderful profession!

What Is the Achilles Tendon?

Achilles3A tendon is a band of tissue that connects a muscle to a bone. The Achilles tendon runs down the back of the lower leg and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Also called the “heel cord,” the Achilles tendon facilitates walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground.

Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendonosis
Two common disorders that occur in the heel cord are Achilles tendonitis and Achilles tendonosis.

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This inflammation is typically short-lived. Over time, if not resolved, the condition may progress to a degeneration of the tendon (Achilles tendonosis), in which the tendon loses its organized structure and is likely to develop microscopic tears. Sometimes the degeneration involves the site where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. In rare cases, chronic degeneration with or without pain may result in rupture of the tendon.

Causes
As “overuse” disorders, Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis are usually caused by a sudden increase of a repetitive activity involving the Achilles tendon. Such activity puts too much stress on the tendon too quickly, leading to micro-injury of the tendon fibers. Due to this ongoing stress on the tendon, the body is unable to repair the injured tissue. The structure of the tendon is then altered, resulting in continued pain.

Achilles4Athletes are at high risk for developing disorders of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis are also common in individuals whose work puts stress on their ankles and feet, such as laborers, as well as in “weekend warriors”—those who are less conditioned and participate in athletics only on weekends or infrequently.

In addition, people with excessive pronation (flattening of the arch) have a tendency to develop Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis due to the greater demands placed on the tendon when walking. If these individuals wear shoes without adequate stability, their over-pronation could further aggravate the Achilles tendon.

Symptoms
The symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis include:

  • Pain—aching, stiffness, soreness, or tenderness—within the tendon. This may occur anywhere along the tendon’s path, beginning with the tendon’s attachment directly above the heel upward to the region just below the calf muscle. Often pain appears upon arising in the morning or after periods of rest, then improves somewhat with motion but later worsens with increased activity.
  • Tenderness, or sometimes intense pain, when the sides of the tendon are squeezed. There is less tenderness, however, when pressing directly on the back of the tendon.
  • When the disorder progresses to degeneration, the tendon may become enlarged and may develop nodules in the area where the tissue is damaged.

Diagnosis
In diagnosing Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, the surgeon will examine the patient’s foot and ankle and evaluate the range of motion and condition of the tendon. The extent of the condition can be further assessed with x-rays or other imaging modalities.

Treatment
Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are selected on the basis of how long the injury has been present and the degree of damage to the tendon. In the early stage, when there is sudden (acute) inflammation, one or more of the following options may be recommended:

  • Immobilization. Immobilization may involve the use of a cast or removable walking boot to reduce forces through the Achilles tendon and promote healing.
  • Ice. To reduce swelling due to inflammation, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area for 20 minutes of each waking hour. Do not put ice directly against the skin.
  • Oral medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation in the early stage of the condition.
  • Orthotics. For those with over-pronation or gait abnormalities, custom orthotic devices may be prescribed.
  • Night splints. Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon during sleep.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises, soft-tissue massage/mobilization, gait and running re-education, stretching, and ultrasound therapy.

When is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition, surgery may be necessary. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the best procedure to repair the tendon, based upon the extent of the injury, the patient’s age and activity level, and other factors.

Prevention
To prevent Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis from recurring after surgical or non-surgical treatment, the foot and ankle surgeon may recommend strengthening and stretching of the calf muscles through daily exercises. Wearing proper shoes for the foot type and activity is also important in preventing recurrence of the condition.