Achilles Tendinitis occurs when the large tendon that runs down the lower leg becomes irritated of inflamed. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and is used to walk, run, climb, and jump. The Achilles tendon can withstand great stress but is prone to tendinitis from overuse of degradation.
There are two types of Achilles tendinitis based upon which part of the tendon is inflamed.
- Noninsertional Achilles Tendinitis- fibers in the middle portion of the tendon begin to break down with tiny tears, swell, and thicken. This type of Achilles tendinitis tends to affect younger, active people.
- Insertional Achilles Tendinitis – involves the lower portion of the heel, where the bone attaches to the heel bone. Often bone spurs are the result of insertional Achilles Tendinitis.
Achilles Tendinitis is typically not related to a specific injury. The problem results from repetitive stress to the tendon. Other factors that may cause tendinitis, include.
- Sudden increase in the amount or intensity of exercise activity
- Tight Calf Muscles
- Bone Spurs
- Pains and stiffness along the Achilles tendon in the morning
- Pain along the tendon or back of the heel that worsens with activity
- Server pain the day after exercising
- Thickening of the tendon
- Bone Spurs
- Swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day with activity
In most cases nonsurgical treatment will provide pain relief. Although it may take months for symptoms to completely subside.
- Rest first step in reducing pain is to decrease of even stop the activities that make the pain worse.
- Ice – Placing ice on the most painful area of the Achilles tendon is helpful and can be done as needed throughout the day
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen reduce pain and swelling
- Exercises’ such as calf stretches, bilateral heel drop, single leg heel drop can help strengthen the calf muscles and reduce stress on the Achilles tendon
- Cortisone injections
- Supportive shoes or orthotics