What is Achilles Tendonitis?

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon that connects the calf muscles of the leg to the heel of the foot.  Once inflamed, the tendon can be slow to heal due to its poor blood supply.  It is more common as an overuse injury in athletes, especially those who play sports like tennis, football, soccer and running.

Signs of Achilles Tendonitis include severe excruciating pain in the area after first walking in the morning an when getting up after sitting for long periods of time, swelling and stiffness.  Sometimes a lump seen in the back of the lower leg and the overlying skin can be red and tender to the touch.  As people age, tendons, like other tissues in the body, become less flexible, and more susceptible to injury. The most susceptible to Achilles tendonitis are middle-age recreational athletes.

Treatment options include ice and NSAIDS to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, and show modifications or orthotics to reduce overpronation.  Also cushioning pads which cover the heels are often helpful while the tendon heals.  Rehabilitation or physical therapy to strengthen the tendon is recommended for some patients, and immobilization with a plaster cast is done in severe cases to adequately rest the tendon. 

Some people improve after applying light to medium compression around ankles and lower calf by the use of ACE bandages throughout the day.  Compression accelerates healing by improving circulation to the injured area.

It is best to see a podiatric physician for treatment as soon as possible if after experiencing these symptoms, because this injury can lead to an Achilles tendon rupturewith continued overuse.