What Is Achilles Tendonitis?

The longest tendon in the human body is the Achilles tendon. Although this tendon can withstand forces of 1000 pounds or more, it is the most likely tendon to rupture. Excessive exercise, poor footwear and being overweight can contribute to a condition known as Achilles tendonitis. The injury to the fibers that make up the tendon leads to inflammation and pain along this major tendon at the back of the ankle or toward the heel, where it attaches to the heel bone.

Patients suffering from Achilles tendonitis report back of the heel or ankle pain, especially after resting. There may also be stiffness or a “sluggish” feeling in your leg. While the pain and stiffness can improve with activity, overuse causes the pain to return and worsen. In addition to swelling at the back of the heel or ankle, the associated pain is described as: deep, pulling, throbbing, and burning. Localized tendon pain during or after running is common.

Physical Activities That Can Cause Achilles Tendonitis, Include:
» Hill running or stair climbing.
» Overuse, stemming from the natural lack of flexibility in the calf muscles.
» Rapidly increasing mileage or speed when walking, jogging, or running.
» Starting up too quickly after a layoff in exercise or sports activity, without adequately stretching and warming up the foot.
» Trauma caused by sudden and/or hard contraction of the calf muscles when putting out extra effort, such as in a sprint.
» Improper footwear and/or a tendency toward overpronation.

How Is Achilles Tendonitis Treated?

The podiatrists at Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic will examine your leg and ankle to determine if Achilles tendonitis is the cause of the pain. Ultrasound and or x-rays may be used to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis.

Rest will be a key element of your treatment program, along with decreasing inflammation, properly supporting the ankle and foot to promote healing in the damaged Achilles tendon. Your podiatrist may also recommend stretching and icing techniques, ankle braces, walking casts, night splint devices, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and/or custom orthotic shoe inserts. We do not use cortisone injections in treating Achilles tendonitis, as this can lead to tendon ruptures.

What To Expect If Surgery Is Recommended?

If bone abnormalities are present, outpatient surgery may be necessary to resolve Achilles tendonitis. This situation is rare, however, the outcomes are often successful. You can expect to be off your foot with restricted walking and other activities for an extended period.

If you have injured your achilles tendon or have questions about achilles tendonitis, give us a call at one of our 5 local podiatry offices in Charlotte, Concord and Harrisburg today for more information or to schedule an appointment.