Achilles tendinitis is a common injury that can cause pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, also the calcaneus.
What is Achilles tendinitis and what are the symptoms?
The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It attaches to the heel bone, also known as the calcaneus. The Achilles tendon is made up of 3 separate tendons that come together to form one bigger tendon. It is made up of the gastrocnemius muscle, soleus muscle, and sometimes a smaller tendon that is not always present called the plantaris tendon.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include pain, swelling, and inflammation around the tendon and adjacent structures. Pain can be worsened by increased activity and in some cases, even at rest. There may also be tenderness when pressure is applied to the affected area. Swelling can be seen or felt along the length of the tendon or in the ankle or foot. Inflammation may also cause heat or redness around the affected area.
What are the causes of Achilles tendinitis?
There are a few different things that can contribute to developing Achilles tendinitis including overuse, tight calf muscles, flat feet, high heels, and shoes that don’t fit well. Overuse injuries are usually seen in people who participate in activities that involve running or jumping such as basketball, tennis, or track. These types of activities put stress on the Achilles tendon and can lead to micro tears which then lead to inflammation and pain. People who have tight calf muscles may also be more susceptible to developing Achilles tendinitis because they have less range of motion at their ankle joint which puts more stress on the Achilles tendon when they walk or run. Having flat feet or high arches can also contribute to developing Achilles tendinitis because it alters how weight is distributed when you walk or run which then puts additional stress on the Achilles tendon.
Not all cases of pain in the back of the heel are due to Achilles tendinitis. Other causes include bursitis, posterior ankle impingement, retrocalcaneal bursitis, insertional or non-insertional Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendon rupture, and others.
How is Achilles tendinitis diagnosed?
Achilles tendinitis is usually diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will likely ask you about your symptoms and when they started as well as any other health conditions you have that might be contributing to your pain. They will also ask about your activities and footwear to get an idea of what might be causing or exacerbating your symptoms. In some cases, your doctor may order an x-ray or MRI to rule out other possible causes of your pain such as a fracture or arthritis.
How is Achilles tendinitis treated?
The good news is that most cases of Achilles tendinitis can be treated at home with a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). You should start by resting from any activities that worsen your pain for at least 2 weeks. You can apply ice for 20 minutes at a time several times per day to help reduce swelling. You should wrap your ankle with an ace bandage or wear compression socks to help reduce swelling as well. Finally, you should keep your foot elevated above heart level as much as possible to help reduce swelling. If home treatment does not seem to be improving your symptoms after 2 weeks, you should make an appointment with your doctor for further evaluation and treatment options such as physical therapy or orthotic devices. Surgery is only rarely needed for cases of Achilles tendinitis that do not respond to conservative treatment measures.
Other nonsurgical modalities can be considered. One option would be radial shockwave treatment, and the other be a PRP injection.
In conclusion, Achilles Tendinitis is a common injury caused by overuse, tight calf muscles, flat feet, high heels, improper shoes, etc… Treatment usually involves RICE (rest, ice, compression elevation), however if this does not work after 2 weeks make sure to see a doctor for further evaluation to confirm the diagnosis and for possible advanced treatment options.