Achilles tendinitis occurs when your Achilles tendon – the tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone – becomes inflamed, often, as a result of an overuse injury. A tendon is a strong fibrous cord of tissue that connects your muscle to your bone. The term tendinitis is also called tendonitis. Most cases of minor Achilles tendinitis can be managed at home.
Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms
Achilles tendinitis symptoms vary depending on the severity of your injury. Symptoms of minor tendinitis include mild pain or discomfort and tenderness on the area of Achilles injury. Swelling may or may not be present. You may have increased pain or discomfort while walking or running up the stairs or uphill. Stretching the tendon may also cause increased discomfort or pain.
Symptoms of severe Achilles tendinitis include:
– Severe pain on the Achilles tendon that worsens with activity
– Swelling or redness over the area of injury
– Achilles tendon stiffness
– Difficulty walking
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Although your Achilles tendon is one of the largest and strongest tendons in your body, it has certain limitations on the amount of stresses that it can withstand. Two of the most common causes of Achilles tendinitis are overuse and arthritis.
Achilles tendinitis caused by overuse is more commonly seen in young, active people who do lots of walking or running (especially uphill). Activities that require you to do sudden movements, such as sprinting and jumping, may also increase your risk of developing the condition and even tendon rupture.
Some people may get Achilles tendinitis if they increase the amount or intensity of their exercise workout, too much or too soon.
Arthritis-related Achilles tendinitis is more common in the older population.
Achilles Tendinitis Treatment
Most minor cases of injury can be managed at home without special medical intervention. Home treatments that you can do to manage your symptoms of pain and swelling include:
Stopping and getting rest. If possible, you should stop your activity and rest following your injury. Resting for more than two days, however, may not be advisable as this may lead to tendon stiffness and slowed healing.
Apply ice. You should apply an ice pack wrapped in towel over your injured Achilles for not more than 20 minutes at a time every three to four hours a day. You can do this during the acute stage of your injury (1 to 2 days). Ice pack application helps relieve your pain and reduce swelling. Never apply the pack for more than 20 minutes at a time as this can lead to tissue injury (frostbite).
Compress and elevate. Elevating your limb above the level of your heart and applying compression bandage may help minimize swelling, as well. Don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare provider on how to properly apply the bandage or if you are unsure of how to manage your minor injury.
Severe cases of Achilles tendinitis where rupture is involved should be seen by a qualified medical practitioner. Other medical procedures may be necessary such as surgery or application of cast.
Questions and Answers About Bursitis and Tendinitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Accessed on December 4, 2010.
Achilles Tendinitis. Physical Therapy (PT) Notes. Accessed on December 4, 2010.
Achilles Tendinitis. Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. Accessed on December 4, 2010.