How High Cholesterol and Your Achilles Tendons Are Linked

It appears that what’s bad for the heart is bad for the tendons. Cholesterol is essential to your health but having too much in the blood spells trouble for your heart. Most people know that high cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease. However, did you know that it also raises the chances of tendon problems? Surprisingly, a high blood cholesterol level can drive Achilles tendon pain and injury.

Your tendons have an important job

Tendons connect your muscles to your bones and are made up of a tough, fibrous material. They serve as tension bands that help your muscles and bones work together during movement. You have tendons all over your body, and your Achilles is the strongest of the bunch.

Located at the back of your leg, your Achilles connects your calf to your heel bone. There’s a reason it’s the strongest tendon in your body. It must bear your weight when you stand or perform movements where you put weight on your feet.

Tendon problems can arise from sudden injury or repetitive movements. We can now add high cholesterol to the list that puts your tendons at risk.

Too much cholesterol linked to inflammation and tendon pain

People with high total cholesterol and/or elevated levels of LDL – a bad form of cholesterol -- are more likely to have tendon pain, and because the Achilles is the largest and bears all your weight, it’s more vulnerable.

It’s thought that a buildup of cholesterol triggers a low level of ongoing inflammation that affects your tendons, causing pain and susceptibility to injury.

Elevated cholesterol may cause issues like Achilles tendonitis, which is when your Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and irritated. Symptoms include:

Elevated cholesterol is linked to tendon abnormalities

In addition to the inflammation link, unhealthy cholesterol levels may negatively alter the very structure of your tendons. Researchers theorize that cholesterol deposits may lead to structural changes that weakened tendons. In studies, people with high cholesterol showed tendon abnormalities, such as abnormal Achilles thickness, while participants with normal cholesterol did not.

Treating Achilles tendon problems

It’s important to see a foot and ankle specialist if you experience symptoms of Achilles tendon trouble. Our team at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists can evaluate your problem and help you heal.

Achilles treatment is aimed at reducing irritation and stress affecting the tendon. Your podiatrist may recommend temporarily reducing physical activity to prevent further irritation. Elevating your foot and taking anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce swelling and manage pain.

Managing your cholesterol

Keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range protects your heart -- and your tendons. If your cholesterol is high, lifestyle changes and medication can help get your levels in check. A healthy reading for total cholesterol is below 200 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) and for LDL is below 100 mg/dl.

Your body makes good cholesterol, too, in the form of HDL, and having a high HDL is beneficial. An HDL level of 60 mg/dl or higher reduces your heart disease risk.

Our podiatrists at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists are dedicated to improving lives through expert foot care. For effective treatment, call to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in Grapevine or Keller, Texas, or use our convenient online booking form.

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