Achilles Tendinitis

If you have ever felt ankle or heel pain and had trouble walking because of it, you may have had Achilles tendinitis. The largest tendon in the human body, the Achilles tendon, runs behind your leg and connects your heel to the muscles in your calf. Our abilities to walk, jump, and run depend upon the tendon’s strength and flexibility. Even though it is the largest, it is far more inclined to suffer from injuries because it receives a limited blood supply and is responsible for allowing our legs to move in a variety of ways.

What is Achilles Tendinitis?

This term refers to the strain or injury caused to the Achilles tendon during repeatedly strenuous activities. Since inflammation is how the body deals with disease or injury, the tendon becomes inflamed and irritated to the point of causing discomfort or pain.

Woman with Achilles Tendinitis

Who can get Achilles Tendinitis?

It is commonly thought that only people who are active in sports are prone to developing Achilles tendinitis, but the truth is that anyone can develop it simply because it is nearly impossible to keep from having to use your Achilles tendons. Everyday activities can cause enough stress to irritate the Achilles tendon and our busy schedules don’t give us enough time to allow our bodies to repair the damage before it grows worse.

People who are very physically active do take the greatest risk of suffering tendinitis or an Achilles tendon injury which can be caused by the following activities:

  • Dancing
  • Jogging or running
  • Playing sports that necessitate making quick turns, starts, and stops
  • Working in occupations that require being on their feet for long periods, such as a delivery person or a construction laborer
  • Those who take part in sporting activities more sporadically and are not properly conditioned to handle the stress.

Physical activity is not the only cause of Achilles tendinitis. Sometimes a person’s anatomy, or body structure and shape, can cause these kinds of issues. Anatomical complications could include:

  • Flat foot arches.
  • Weak or tight calf muscles.
  • Bone growths or spurs developed in the heels.
  • Overpronation – a condition that causes the ankles to roll down and inward while walking.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis affects the lower leg from the calf down toward the heel of the foot. The most common signs include:

  • Tenderness or stiffness in the tendon.
  • Weakness in the leg.
  • Inflammation or swelling around the tendon.
  • Heel or ankle pain.

People also notice discomfort walking uphill or up a flight of stairs, after the day’s activities or a period of exercise, and first thing in the morning after getting out of bed. Stiffness and soreness beginning early in the morning often feel better throughout the day as the tendon stretches.

How is Achilles Tendinitis Diagnosed?

Foot and ankle injuries can be difficult to diagnose without a thorough examination completed by a podiatrist. Sometimes diagnostic equipment is needed to completely discover and explore an injury which might include the use of x-rays, MRI scans, and ultrasound machines.

Treatment Options for Achilles Tendinitis

If surgery is not necessary, treatments generally include:

  1. Substituting low-impact activities for more strenuous ones, such as swimming for jogging.
  2. Resting to facilitate healing.
  3. Applying ice throughout the day.
  4. Using compression wraps.
  5. Elevating the leg to reduce inflammation.

Our podiatrists may recommend a few other measures to protect an injured tendon such as wearing a walking cast, supportive shoes with custom orthotics, and a splint at night during sleep.

Other treatments that may be used can include:

  • Exercises like calf stretches, which can be done independently.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen.
  • Shockwave therapy.
  • Physical therapy.

An injury that is severe or persists longer than six months may require surgery.

Let Us Help You with Achilles Tendinitis

Our skilled doctors at the Texas Foot & Ankle Center understand that reaching a diagnosis and implementing an individualized treatment plan quickly is essential to each patient. We can also work with you to recommend custom orthotics and other solutions to help you stay active while minimizing your risk of injury. Contact us online or call our office at (214) 660-0777. Do not let Achilles tendinitis keep you from doing what you love!