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The Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscles to your heel bone, or calcaneus. You use this tendon to jump, walk, run, and stand on the balls of your feet. Continuous, intense physical activity, like running and jumping, can cause painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This is known as Achilles tendonitis (or tendinitis).
You can often treat Achilles tendonitis at home using simple strategies. However, if home treatment doesn’t work, it’s important to see a doctor. If your tendonitis gets worse, your tendon can tear. You may need medication or surgery to ease the pain.
Excessive exercise or walking is a common cause of Achilles tendonitis. This is particularly true for athletes. However, factors unrelated to exercise may also contribute to risk. Rheumatoid arthritis and infection are both correlated with tendonitis.
In general, any repeated activity that strains the Achilles tendon can contribute to this problem. A few possible causes are:
The main symptom of Achilles tendonitis is a feeling of pain and swelling in the posterior part of your heel as you walk or run. Other symptoms include tight calf muscles and limited range of motion when you flex your foot. This condition can also make the skin on your heel feel overly warm to the touch.
To diagnose the condition correctly, your doctor will ask you a few questions about the pain and swelling in your heel. Your doctor may ask you to stand on the balls of your feet while they observe your range of motion and flexibility. The doctor will also palpate the area directly to pinpoint where the pain and swelling are most severe.
Confirming Achilles tendonitis may involve imaging tests, but they’re often unnecessary. If ordered, the tests include:
There’s a variety of treatments available for Achilles tendonitis. These range from rest and ibuprofen (Advil) to steroid injections and surgery. Your doctor might suggest:
Sometimes, more conservative treatments are not effective. In these cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the Achilles tendon. If the condition intensifies and is left untreated, there’s a greater risk of an Achilles rupture, which requires a surgical intervention. This can cause sharp pain in the heel area.
To lower your risk of Achilles tendonitis, try the following strategies:
Written by: Chitra Badii and Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Published on: Aug 25, 2016on: Jun 08, 2017
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