Achilles Tendonitis

What is it?

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It is a band at the back of the lower leg that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The most common injury to the achilles tendon is achilles tendonitis.  Achilles tendonitis is the overuse of the achilles tendon. It commonly occurs in high impact sports such as running, basketball, jumping and tennis.


What will I feel?

Some beginning symptoms of achilles tendonitis are stiffness and tenderness in the back of the foot.  If overuse of the achilles tendon continues, the pain can become more severed. Some patients report mild pain in the morning, which usually subsides after mild activity occurs. Pain may be aggravated by going up and down stairs.


What will they do?

During the physical exam, your doctor will gently press on the affected area. We will determine the location of pain, tenderness or swelling. He or she will also evaluate the flexibility, alignment and range of motion of your foot and ankle.They may be able to palpate a bone spur on the back of your heel. X-rays are ordered to determine if there is an associated bone spur. If a full or partial  tear or rupture is suspected, a MRI can be ordered to further guide treatment.


Possible Treatment Options:

Achilles tendonitis generally responds very well to conservative treatment as long as it is diagnosed and treated early.

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is a good initial treatment to reduce pain. Icing will help decrease the inflammation and pain in the tendon.
  • Heel lifts in the patient’s shoes.
  • Supportive shoe gear or a low heel.
  • Avoid barefoot walking
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to calm the inflammatory process in the tendon.
  • Stretching exercises for the lower leg to help loosen the calf muscle and Achilles tendon so that the tendon is not under as much stress.
  • If the pain is particularly severe, a pneumatic walking boot can be used to immobilize the area to reduce pain and inflammation when walking.
  • Custom orthotics to reduce mechanical stresses in the area.
  • Physical Therapy can aid in decreased inflammation and increasing flexibility.
  • Alternative therapies. These therapies are worth considering for cases that have failed conservative treatment.
    • Amniotic membrane
    • Pain lasers
  • If the tendon has been ruptured completely, surgery is available


How do I Avoid it?

  1. Always warm up thoroughly before any exercise.
  2. Stretch your muscles and tendons every day.
  3. Evaluate your shoe gear to ensure they are supportive and do not need to be replaced.
  4. Replace your shoes (especially athletic) yearly
  5. Do not continue to exercise through the pain
  6. Do not delay treatment

Podiatrist Dr. David FreedmanDr. Priya Parthasarathy works in our Silver Spring, MD (White Oak) office.

The information on this site is provided for your assistance only; this site does not provide podiatric advice. You should never diagnose or treat yourself for a podiatric condition based on the information provided herein, and the information is not provided for that purpose. Likewise, you should never determine that treatment is unnecessary based on this information. The information contained herein is not a substitute for podiatric care provided by a licensed podiatric professional. The information provided herein is not podiatric, medical or professional advice. This site does not create a doctor-patient relationship.

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