The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body, located in the back of the lower leg and connecting the heel bone to the calf muscle. This tendon is crucial as it facilitates walking and running by helping to raise the heel off of the ground. While the tendon can withstand immense force, it’s also surprisingly vulnerable. Injuries to the Achilles tendon require prompt treatment.
When the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed from excessive use, tendonitis can weaken it over time and cause small tears. Athletes are at a high risk for Achilles tendon injuries, which often occurs at the start of a new exercise or training program, or due to not having enough rest or recovery time.
You don’t have to be an accomplished athlete to suffer an Achilles tendon injury. People with flat feet, arthritis and other foot problems are also more susceptible to develop Achilles tendonitis due to increased demands placed on the tendon when walking.
Common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include:
- Mild pain after running or exercising that intensifies gradually
- Localized pain along the tendon, especially after running
- Tenderness near the heel bone, with pain being worse first thing in the morning
- Stiffness and limited range of motion in the lower leg and ankle
- Swelling around the tendon
- When the disorder progresses to degeneration, the tendon may become enlarged and develop nodules in the area where the tissue is damaged
To prevent injuries to the Achilles tendon, strengthening and stretching the calf muscles through daily exercise is recommended. Alternating intense exercise with low-impact workouts and wearing proper shoes for your foot type and activity can also help reduce your risk for injury.
Any time you experience pain, tenderness or swelling along the Achilles tendon, visit Alan J. Discont, DPM, FACFAS for professional diagnosis and treatment. Treatment for an injured Achilles tendon should begin right away with rest, ice, compression and elevation. Without prompt care, Achilles tendonitis will get progressively worse, thus increasing the risk for further deterioration and rupture. As a last resort and when other treatments fail, surgery may be recommended to repair the tendon.
The professional podiatrists at our Chandler office can provide the best diagnosis and treatment for optimal recovery.