World Cup-style soccer


When the U.S. men's soccer team played Germany in the World Cup last week, thousands of fans crowded into Chicago's Grant Park to watch on giant screens.

Team USA lost the match, but World Cup fever has hit hard, and many soccer fans are following the action.

As podiatrists at DM Foot & Ankle Associates, Dr. Michelle Kim and I love to see people excited about sports, but we know soccer can lead to painful injuries. One problem the sport can create is Achilles tendonitis.

The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. Those who suffer from it experience irritation and inflammation in the large tendon in the back of the ankle. The injury tends to be common in athletes -- especially those who play soccer -- as a result of getting stepped on or kicked, rolling the ankle the wrong way or too much force when starting or ending a sprint.

Most often, the inflammation that comes with the injury can lead to pain and swelling.

There are several factors that may increase a person's risk of Achilles tendonitis:

  • Age and sex: Achilles tendinitis is common among middle-aged men.

  • A naturally flat foot arch can put more strain on the Achilles tendon. Obesity and tight calf muscles also can increase the strain.

  • Running or exercising in old, worn-out shoes can increase the risk. Running on hilly terrain also can put someone at higher risk of Achilles injury.

  • Those with diabetes or high blood pressure may be at at higher risk

  • Certain types of antibiotics have been linked with a higher risk of Achilles tendinitis.

The good news is that Achilles tendonitis often responds well to measures such as rest and ice. When it's persistent, treatment can include:

  • Medications: These can include over-the-counter drugs for pain, or stronger medications to reduce inflammation

  • Physical therapy such as stretching and strengthening exercises

  • Shoe inserts that elevate the heel to ease strain on the tendon

  • Surgery: If conservative treatments aren't effective or if the tendon tears, this might be done to repair the Achilles tendon

If you're suffering from Achilles pain from soccer or other sports, call our office so we can evaluate you and get you on the path back to health. We hope you enjoy watching the World Cup this summer, and go Team USA!

By Diana Emini

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