Achilles Tendonitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Posted on February 26th, 2024 by Orthopaedic Specialty Group

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the back of the ankle. Understanding its causes, recognizing its symptoms, and knowing the available treatments are crucial for managing this condition effectively.

Causes of Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis typically occurs due to overuse or repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon, the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Some common causes include:

  • Intense Physical Activity: Engaging in activities that involve running, jumping, or sudden changes in direction can strain the Achilles tendon, leading to inflammation and tendonitis.
  • Tight Calf Muscles: Tight calf muscles can increase the stress on the Achilles tendon during movement, making it more susceptible to injury.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing footwear that lack proper support or cushioning, or wearing high heels for extended periods, can contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis.
  • Sudden Increases in Activity Level: Rapidly increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise without proper conditioning can overload the Achilles tendon and result in tendonitis.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis

The most common symptom of Achilles tendonitis is pain and stiffness in the back of the ankle, particularly near the heel. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness along the Achilles tendon
  • Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest
  • Morning stiffness and soreness in the Achilles tendon area
  • Thickening or nodules along the tendon

In severe cases, the Achilles tendon may become weakened and more prone to tears or ruptures.

Treatment Options for Achilles Tendonitis

Effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis focuses on reducing pain and inflammation, promoting healing, and preventing further injury. Some common treatment options include:

  • Rest and Activity Modification: Avoid activities that aggravate the Achilles tendon and allow sufficient rest for the tendon to heal.
  • Ice Therapy: Apply ice packs to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times a day to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises for the calf muscles and eccentric strengthening exercises for the Achilles tendon can help improve flexibility and resilience.
  • Orthotic Devices: Using orthotic inserts or heel lifts in shoes to provide support and relieve stress on the Achilles tendon.
  • Physical Therapy: Undergoing physical therapy is an option to improve flexibility, strength, and biomechanics and to learn proper techniques for rehabilitation and injury prevention.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

In some cases, more advanced treatments such as corticosteroid injections, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), or surgery may be considered if conservative measures fail to provide relief.

If you’re experiencing persistent pain or discomfort in the Achilles tendon area, consult with an orthopaedic specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

For exceptional orthopaedic care, contact Orthopaedic Specialty Group in Connecticut!

It’s crucial to seek expert medical treatment if you struggle with problems or pain associated with your bones or joints. Contact Orthopaedic Specialty Group on our website or give our professionals a call at (203) 337-2600, and let us know how we can help you! Don’t let that pain hold you back from living your life. Your health and safety are our top priority.