Achilles Tendonitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?

The Achilles tendon is located on the back of the ankle. It is the largest tendon in the human body, serving to connect large calf muscles to the back of the heel bone. Since this tendon pulls such large muscles, it is prone to stress due to high activity, such as running and jumping.

A common condition in the Achilles tendon is called Achilles tendonitis, which is when the tendon becomes inflamed and painful. Since this condition is typically the result of overuse, it most commonly afflicts athletes, especially as they age.

Common signs of Achilles tendonitis include:

  • Pain in the back of the ankle
  • Swelling or thickening of the tendon
  • Limping and an altered gait

Diagnosing Achilles tendonitis

A podiatrist can diagnose Achilles tendonitis based on of the patient’s description of pain in the back of the ankle, and how activity affects the pain. The podiatrist may feel the tendon to check for any swelling, thickness, or a painful bump. If a partial or full tear is suspected, the podiatrist may order an MRI scan.

Treating Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis typically responds well to conservative treatments, especially if it is diagnosed in its early stages. These treatments may include:

  • Heel lifts for footwear
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Icing and stretching
  • Avoidance of walking barefoot or in low-heeled shoes
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Custom orthotics

If a partial tear is suspected, the patient may be required to wear a cast. This injury can take a few weeks or months to heal completely, but usually doesn’t require surgery.