Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis Specialist
As the largest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon is subjected to stress and strain that can result in considerable pain in the heel and leg. At Farragut Foot & Ankle, Dr. Andrew Carver helps patients from Washington, D.C. relieve Achilles tendonitis with advanced care options including extracorporeal shockwave therapy.

Achilles Tendonitis Q & A

What is tendonitis?

Tendonitis (or tendinitis) is an irritation and inflammation of the tendons, the strong, fibrous bands that connect muscles to bones. In the foot, one of the primary tendons is the Achilles tendon, which stretches from the calf muscles to the back of the heel. The Achille's tendon is the largest tendon in the body, promoting movement and stability when walking, running, standing and jumping. Although the tendon is amazingly strong and resilient, it can become inflamed and irritated as a result of:

  • age-related changes and tissue degeneration
  • obesity
  • overuse and repetitive use
  • heel spurs
  • very tight calf muscles
  • aggressive exercise routines or abrupt changes in routine
  • failing to warm up the muscles and tendon prior to activity

There are two primary types of Achilles tendonitis:

  • non-insertional tendonitis, which occurs when the tendon fibers in the middle of the Achille's tendon begin to swell and break down, and
  • insertional tendonitis, which occurs where the tendon attaches to the heel

Non-insertional tendonitis tends to occur primarily in younger, active people while insertional tendonitis can affect anyone, including those who are sedentary.

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis causes pain in the heel and the back of the leg which can sometimes extend into the midfoot region during movement. Sometimes, pain is accompanied by localized swelling or tenderness. As the tendon becomes inflamed and swollen, it can rub against the protective sheath of tissues that surrounds it, causing “sticking” or rubbing sensations called crepitus.

How is Achilles tendonitis treated?

Often, Achilles tendonitis can be treated with a conservative approach including:

  • rest
  • application of ice
  • gentle stretching and physical therapy
  • extracorporeal shockwave therapy to stimulate healing
  • cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
  • use of custom orthotics to relieve strain on the tendon, especially while healing
  • lifestyle changes including changes in physical activity and losing excess weight

Less commonly, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon, lengthen abnormally short calf muscles, or remove heel spurs.

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