Achilles Tendinitis

What is Achilles tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis (sometimes Achilles tendinopathy or tendonitis) is an inflammatory condition affecting the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a large tendon which attaches the calf muscle to the bony heel of the foot. This condition tends to affect athletic people, especially those between the ages of 30 and 50. Achilles tendinitis can usually be diagnosed based on the symptoms and physical examination of the ankle and tendon. People with Achilles tendinitis should rest from strenuous physical activity (especially running and jumping activities) for 2 to 4 weeks. Most people recover from Achilles tendinitis without any lasting effects.

Risks

The Achilles tendon is a big, thick tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the bony heel of the foot. This tendon bears the weight of the body when pushing off from the toes when walking or running. Achilles tendinitis occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed or damaged through overuse. This condition is most common in people who exercise regularly or who recently increased their amount of physical activity. It tends to be most common between the ages of 30 and 50. Some antibiotics can increase the risk of developing this condition.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis are pain at the back of the foot and heel when moving the ankle. This is especially worse when pointing the toes, or pushing off from the toes. The ankle may feel stiff and not move as easily as normal. Some people may hear a faint crackling sound as they point their toes. The tendon may eventually begin to feel thicker, harder or lumpy to the touch.

Diagnosis

Achilles tendinitis can usually be diagnosed based on the symptoms and physical examination of the ankle and tendon. Usually no further tests are needed, but X-rays or ultrasound scans might be done to exclude similar conditions, such as a tendon tear.

Treatment

People with Achilles tendinitis should rest from strenuous physical activity (especially running and jumping activities) for 2 to 4 weeks. Using ice packs and simple pain relief, such as ibuprofen, can help manage pain.

Prevention

Taking care to stretch fully before exercising, increasing the duration of exercise gradually and cooling-down adequately can all help to prevent this condition. If an injury or pain occurs, it is wise to rest the injury early to prevent developing a more severe injury. People who run regularly may benefit from specialist advice about appropriate footwear.

Other names for Achilles tendinitis

  • Achilles tendinitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Achilles tendinopathy