Achilles Tendonitis

Definition: inflammation in the tendon of the calf muscle, where it attaches to the heel bone

Medical terminology: Achilles tendonitis, Achilles tendonopathy, Achilles tenosynovitis

 

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. This tendon can be felt behind the ankle joint and feels like a cord. The Achilles tendon assists to raise the heel off the ground while walking, running or jumping.

What can cause Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is commonly referred to as an ‘overuse’ injury. Increased or repetitive activity which puts too much stress on the Achilles tendon can lead to micro injury of the Achilles tendon. Due to the continual stress on the Achilles tendon, the body is unable to repair the injured tendon resulting in pain.

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?

  • Pain, soreness, tenderness, stiffness or aching in the Achilles tendon
  • Pain or tenderness when the tendon is squeezed
  • Swelling of the Achilles tendon

Risk factors for causing Achilles tendonitis

  • ‘Weekend Warriors’ – people who participate in athletics rarely or only on weekends
  • Sudden amounts of excessive activity such as a very long walk, hike or quick pick-up game
  • Flat feet or excessive pronation (flattening of the arch)
  • Athletes

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How do you treat Achilles tendonitis?

There are several conservative, nonsurgical treatment options. Consult your foot specialist to determine what treatment options will be most effective for you. The Cooksville Foot Care Clinic can provide the necessary conservative treatment options and incorporate unique treatment options, such as:

  • Immobilization – using a cast or removable air cast boot
  • Night splints – helps maintain the Achilles tendon at a full stretch during sleep
  • Custom-made orthotic – with a heel lift to reduce excessive pronation and stress on Achilles tendon
  • Shoe modification – reduce some stress on the Achilles tendon
  • Physical therapy – ultrasound therapy, soft tissue massage and stretching/strengthening exercises

If the Achilles tendonitis does not respond to these conservative treatments, surgery may be necessary. Your foot specialist and family physician will be able to discuss the most appropriate procedure to repair the damaged tendon.

How can I prevent an Achilles tendonitis?

Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles daily and before activity can help reduce the risk of experiencing an Achilles tendonitis. It is important to wear proper footwear for the activity at hand and for your foot type.