Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon is overused. It is most common in athletes, especially runners, who have increased the intensity of their workouts or training. It is also common in people who are only active a few days a week but may play high-intensity sports during those times. It can be treated and prevented. Severe tendonitis can lead to other complications.
Achilles Tendonitis Causes
Achilles tendonitis is caused by repetitive use and strains on the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a band that connects the calf muscles to your heel bone. When you walk or run, it stretches. Overextending your foot, running too much or too fast, or general overuse can cause the tendon to become overextended and even weaken it over time. This makes it more susceptible to injuries.
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis can vary by person and the severity of the injury. Some people ignore the early symptoms and just relate it to their workouts or training. The most common symptoms include:
- Pain in the ankle
- Pain in the tendon
- Heel pain after running
Achilles Tendonitis Diagnosis
Achilles tendonitis can be diagnosed by a doctor or physical therapist. The doctor may do a physical exam to look at the heel and touch it to determine if it is painful or tender. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may order some imaging tests. These tests may include:
- X-ray: X-rays can show the doctors what the inside of the foot looks like. They can see any tears or ruptures in the tendon.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound allow doctors to see the soft tissue and locate any tears or strained areas of the tendon. They can also show images of the tendon in use.
- MRI: MRI can produce detailed images of the tendon and allow doctors to determine the exact cause of the pain or the severity of the tendonitis.
Achilles Tendonitis Treatment
Achilles tendonitis can be treated, and most treatments require self-care. The patient's age and the severity of the tendonitis can determine which treatment is best for the patient. The most common treatments include:
- Medications: Over-the-counter medication may be suitable for the pain associated with tendonitis. It can help the patient deal with the pain while the tendon heals. Doctors may prescribe other medications if necessary.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen and stretch the Achilles tendon so it can work better and is less likely to become strained or torn.
- Surgery: If other methods of treatment do not work to repair the tendon, surgery may be necessary. Surgery may also be necessary if the Achilles tendon is torn. The surgeon can repair the tendon to help make it stronger. Recovery can take several months.
Most people recover from Achilles tendonitis rather quickly and are able to return to their favorite sports and exercises. Those who have reoccurring Achilles tendonitis or who have had surgery on the tendon may need to try less strenuous activities or work consistently with a physical therapist to ensure that the tendon can handle these activities.