The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that occurs when the large tendon that runs down the back of your lower leg becomes irritated and inflamed. Tendons, unlike bone, can’t repair themselves. After tendons are torn, they create a “scar like” attempt to repair themselves and that tissue does not have the same properties as the original tendon in terms of strength and elasticity.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
Achilles tendinitis can result from an acute injury or repetitive stress to the tendon.
- Increase in the amount or intensity of physical exercise, doing too much too soon
- Tight calves
- Bone spur where the tendon attaches to the heel can rub against the tendon and cause pain (insertional tendinitis)
- Pain on the back of the heel that worsens with activity
- Pain or stiffness along the tendon in the morning
- Pain after exercising
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis in the acute stage, or just a few weeks after the initial injury, are often immobilized in a boot or cast. That allows the tendon a chance to rest and not be stressed, helping with inflammation, swelling, and pain. For more chronic patients that have had ongoing Achilles pain, using ice and heat alternatively often helps decrease pain. Treatment early allows for better, quicker results.
Patients should seek treatment from an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in foot and ankle conditions when they have significant swelling, changes in the soft tissues, or persistent pain for several weeks.