Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is a common condition characterized by inflammation of the Achilles tendon that causes a challenge for individuals of all ages and activity levels. This condition affects the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. It can result from factors such as overuse, improper footwear, or sudden boosts in activity. Achilles tendinitis often causes pain and stiffness along the back of the heel. It can limit mobility and affect daily activities. Understanding this condition is crucial. It can get worse if untreated, leading to severe issues like an Achilles tendon rupture or other complications. By spotting the early signs of Achilles tendinitis and taking the proper steps, you can protect your Achilles heel and keep your active life going without interruption.

achilles tendinitis graphic

Causes of Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis often stems from a variety of factors. Some common causes of Achilles tendinitis include:

  • Overuse and Repetitive Strain: Engaging in repetitive activities that strain the Achilles tendon, such as running or jumping, without proper rest.
  • Sudden Increase in Physical Activity: Rapidly increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercise without allowing the body to adjust gradually.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that lack proper support or cushioning or do not fit correctly can contribute to excessive stress on the Achilles tendon.
  • Foot Structure: Abnormalities in foot structure or gait mechanics can increase strain on the Achilles tendon during movement.
  • Tight Muscles: Tight calf muscles or inadequate flexibility in the ankle joint can place additional strain on the Achilles tendon.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis

If you suspect you have Achilles tendinitis, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Pain and Tenderness: You may initially experience a mild ache in the back of your leg or above your heel. The Achilles tendon may feel tender to the touch or when moved.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: The area around your Achilles tendon may exhibit signs of swelling and feel warm to the touch. In some cases, the tendon itself may thicken, and you might experience difficulty flexing your foot or standing up on one toe due to the inflammation.
  • Activity-related Pain: Pain tends to worsen after activities such as running, jumping, or climbing stairs.
  • Limited Range of Motion: You may experience difficulty flexing your foot or pointing your toes.

person with ankle pain

Risk Factors

Several factors contribute to the risk of developing Achilles tendinitis. Common causes include:

  • Age and Gender: The risk of Achilles tendinitis increases with age as tendons become less flexible and more prone to injury. Men are more frequently affected.
  • Physical Activity: Participating in sports or activities that involve repetitive running, jumping, or sudden starts and stops, such as basketball or tennis.
  • Foot Structure: Biomechanical issues such as flat feet (overpronation) or high arches (supination) can place extra stress on the Achilles tendon.
  • Tight Calf Muscles: Lack of flexibility in the calf muscles can increase tension on the Achilles tendon.

Diagnosing Achilles Tendinitis

Diagnosing Achilles tendinitis involves reviewing the patient’s history and a physical exam. It may also involve imaging tests. First, the healthcare provider will ask about the patient’s symptoms. They will cover the start, duration, and intensity of pain. They will also ask about any recent changes in activity or shoes. During the exam, the doctor will inspect the area for swelling, tenderness, and thickening. These are signs of trouble in the Achilles tendon. They may also assess the ankle and foot’s range of motion and strength.

Sometimes, the physician might perform specific tests, such as the Thompson test, to check for tendon integrity. More evaluation may be needed. Imaging tests, like ultrasound or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), can provide detailed tendon images. They help to find tears, inflammation, or degeneration. Accurate diagnosis is vital, as it helps create an effective treatment plan and prevent further problems.

Treatment Options

Consider the following common treatment options for Achilles tendinitis. Depending on the severity of your condition and your specific needs, they can be utilized individually or in combination.

RICE Method

For immediate relief, you can apply the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Rest reduces further strain, ice helps decrease swelling, compression supports the area, and elevation minimizes swelling.

Bracing or Taping

Wearing a brace or using athletic tape to support the ankle and reduce stress on the tendon.

Gentle Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

These exercises target flexibility in the calf muscles and ankle joint while also strengthening muscles around the Achilles tendon.

NSAIDs

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Surgery: In severe cases or when conservative treatments fail, surgical Achilles tendon repair may be necessary.

Prevention Strategies

To effectively manage and prevent Achilles tendinitis, consider a holistic approach that includes the following techniques:

  • Gradual Increase in Activity: Begin any new physical activity slowly, progressively increasing the intensity and duration. Start at about 50% of your previous capacity and only increase by up to 20% weekly if no discomfort arises.
  • Proper Footwear: Selecting the right shoes is crucial for reducing stress on your Achilles tendon. Shoes should provide good arch support, cushioning, and fit well to prevent excessive tendon strain.
  • Foot Support: Consider using orthotic inserts or heel cups to provide additional support and cushioning for the Achilles tendon during activity.
  • Regular Rest: Allow adequate rest between physical activities to prevent overuse and give the Achilles tendon time to recover.
  • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain in the Achilles tendon and modify activity accordingly to prevent overuse injuries.

physician checking out patient's ankle

Our Approach to Achilles Tendinitis Care

Achilles tendinitis is a big challenge for people of all ages and activity levels. It hinders mobility and causes discomfort. By understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatments, you can take proactive steps to manage and prevent this condition effectively. You can also protect your Achilles tendon with proper footwear, slowly increasing physical activity, and regular stretching and strengthening exercises. These steps will also allow you to maintain an active lifestyle.

For comprehensive care, guidance, and treatment options tailored to individual needs, contact the experts at Florida Medical Clinic Orlando Health. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing personalized care and support to help you overcome Achilles tendinitis and return to pain-free movement.

Brandon - 2020 Town Center Blvd Brandon, Florida 33511

Brandon

2020 Town Center Blvd
Brandon, Florida 33511

Suite D


Brandon

2020 Town Center Blvd
Brandon, Florida 33511

Suite D

Achilles Tendinitis Care Team at this location:
North Tampa - 14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd Tampa, Florida 33613

North Tampa

14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite C


North Tampa

14547 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33613

Suite C

Achilles Tendinitis Care Team at this location:
Wesley Chapel - 2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Wesley Chapel

2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Suite 102


Wesley Chapel

2352 Bruce B Downs Blvd
Wesley Chapel, Florida 33544

Suite 102

Achilles Tendinitis Care Team at this location:
Zephyrhills - 38107 Market Square Drive Zephyrhills, Florida 33542

Zephyrhills

38107 Market Square Drive
Zephyrhills, FL 33542

Main


Zephyrhills

38107 Market Square Drive
Zephyrhills, FL 33542

Achilles Tendinitis Care Team at this location:
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