Achilles tendinitis is often classified as a sports injury, but it can happen to almost everyone despite their overall level of activity.
Commonly causing pain in the back of the heel or just above it, Achilles tendinitis can develop in any situation where too much strain is placed upon the tendon. That can be from pushing too hard as an athlete, or simply having an unfortunate foot structure.
Whether caused by Achilles tendinitis or not, any type of persistent heel pain should always be professionally evaluated and addressed. Midwest Podiatry Centers has the tools and expertise to help you find effective treatment.
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is an injury of the Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus) and is integral to our ability to walk and run.
The tendon is very strong, but it can still experience overstrain. When it does, the tissue can become inflamed and develop tears. When these tears are minor, it is Achilles tendinitis. (When a tear occurs completely through the tendon, that is an Achilles tendon rupture.)
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Not all cases of Achilles tendinitis will carry all the same symptoms. Some of the symptoms that are commonly found include:
- Pain in the back of the heel or the area just above it. This often begins as a dull ache but can worsen over time.
- An increase of pain after a period of activity, such as running or stair climbing.
- Temporary stiffness when moving after a long period of inactivity (such as after sleep). Moving will make it feel better.
The location of the pain can give us a clue as to where along the tendon the strain has occurred. If the pain occurs directly in the back of the heel, it is likely the strain is where the tendon attaches to the heel bone (insertional Achilles tendinitis). If it is higher up the leg, the damage may naturally be higher up the tendon (non-insertional Achilles tendinitis).
How Does Achilles Tendinitis Happen?
Achilles tendinitis can develop for one or more reasons. Determining these causes is key to recommending a treatment plan that provides the best results.
Different potential causes of Achilles tendinitis can include:
- Overuse. The Achilles tendon was physically worked harder or for a longer period than it could reasonably endure. This can happen when beginning a new sport or workout routine, or by going all out in an activity you haven’t properly prepared for.
- Abnormal foot structure or biomechanics. Conditions such as flat feet and high arches can cause an excessive force to shift to the heel and tendon during movement, leading to strain. Having tight calf muscles or a tight Achilles tendon can also cause problems.
- Improper footwear. Certain shoes can fail to provide proper support and cause shifts in weight that load more stress on the Achilles tendon.
- Age. Unfortunately, the Achilles tendon will often weaken as we age, making it more susceptible to injury.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis
If you have persistent pain in your foot, heel, or lower leg – whether you suspect it is Achilles tendinitis or not – you should always schedule an appointment with us. Trying to ignore the problem or delay proper treatment can greatly increase the chances that it will become worse or longer-lasting.
Before your scheduled appointment, try to keep weight off the injury as much as possible. Applying ice several times per day and keeping the affected foot elevated can also help reduce pain and swelling.
Conservative treatments will often be enough to provide optimal relief and recovery for Achilles tendinitis. After a full exam and a determination of the factors behind the condition, we can recommend a plan for treatment. Elements of such a plan might include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Laser therapy to reduce pain and accelerate the natural healing
- Conditioning stretches and exercises to strengthen the tendon and reduce strain from connected tissues (like the calf muscles)
- Changing to more accommodating footwear and/or activities
- The use of night splints, walking boots, or other forms of equipment aid in faster recovery
In severe cases of Achilles tendinitis or those that do not respond well to conservative treatments, surgery may be necessary to provide full and lasting relief. If surgery must be considered, we will fully discuss all available options with you and answer any questions you may have regarding potential procedures.
Effective Relief for Heel Pain Problems
You don’t need to know whether your heel pain is caused by Achilles tendinitis or another problem before coming to see us. We’ll do the heavy lifting of diagnosing the condition and the reasons behind it, and provide a treatment plan that can get you back to the action faster and safer.
Schedule an appointment with us by calling our offices or by filling out our online contact form.
Find Lasting Relief at
Midwest Podiatry Associates
Do not wait any longer to take charge of your achilles tendon pain. When you come to us, we will determine a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs and goals.
Schedule an appointment with any of our area offices by calling (612) 788-8778. You can also reach us electronically by filling out our online contact form.