(Achilles Tendonitis; Achilles Tendinosis)
Tendons connect muscle to bone and often connect near a joint. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain and swelling and makes it difficult to move. Tendinopathy may be:
The achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. An achilles tendinopathy is pain in this tendon.
Tendinopathy is generally caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. Over time, the strain on the tendon causes structural changes within the tendon itself.
Overuse of the Achilles tendon can occur with activities such as:
Factors that increase your risk of getting Achilles tendinopathy include:
Symptoms of tendinopathy may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and exercise habits. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor will likely make a diagnosis based on the exam and history.
Further test may be ordered if the injury is severe or is not healing as expected. Images of the bones and tendons may be taken with:
Tendinopathy and the associated pain may take months to resolve. It can be frustrating but it is important to follow through with recommended treatment.
Rest and Ice
Rest and ice are the first steps. Take a break from any activity that causes pain. Switch to activities that do not put stress on the tendon. Avoid uphill and irregular surfaces. Swimming is a good option. Once the pain has gone, gradually increase your activity levels.
Place ice or an ice pack on the area for 15-20 minutes at a time. This can help the first few days after the injury. It may also help after activity, if you have activity related pain.
Foot and Ankle Support
You may be advised to wear a shoe insert. It will place your foot in the correct position for walking and running.
Taping your ankle during activity may also help. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist before using this option. They can show you the proper way to wrap your foot.
More severe or recurring injuries may need physical therapy. Therapy may include:
To help manage pain your doctor may recommend:
If you are diagnosed with this condition, follow your doctor's instructions.
To decrease your chances of getting achilles tendonitis:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Amercian College of Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Achilles tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated March 18, 2013. Accessed March 25, 2013.
Achilles tendinitis. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://www.aaos.org/. Updated June 2010. Accessed March 25, 2013.
Common disorders of the achilles tendon. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/achilles-tendon.htm. Updated December 18, 2009. Accessed March 25, 2013.
de Jonge S, van den Berg C, de Vos RJ, et al. Incidence of midportion Achilles tendinopathy in the general population. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(13):1026-1028.
Irwin TA. Current concepts review: insertional achilles tendinopathy. Foot Ankle Int. 2010;31(10):933-939.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed February 2013 by Brian Randall, MD