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Achilles Tendinitis

Tendons are the strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon that can create pain and tenderness near joints. Tendinitis can occur in any tendon. In the feet, the Achilles tendon is among the most commonly affected. The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscles to the heel.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis

Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis may include the following:

Heel pain and stiffness, especially in the morning.

Pain in the tendon or the back of the heel that worsens with activity.

Severe pain in the area above the back of the heel after exercising.

Thickening of the tendon.

Persistent swelling that worsens with activity.

Causes of Achilles Tendinitis:

Overuse/repetitive motion.

Sudden increases in activity levels.

Straining or tearing of the tendon from sudden movements or repetitive movements.

Degeneration due to aging.

Systemic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Prevention & Treatment of Achilles Tendinitis

Cross-training, stretching and decreasing the intensity of exercise when soreness occurs can help prevent Achilles tendinitis. Because the tendon can weaken with age and become less resilient, eliminating or reducing exercises and activities that involve aggressive running and jumping can help prevent the condition.

Treatment includes rest, icing and anti-inflammatory medication, if tolerated, to relieve pain and decrease swelling. More aggressive treatments include ultrasound, physical therapy, steroid injections and surgery if and when less invasive treatments are not effective.

To help ensure that your feet are optimally protected during activity, IPFH suggests that you wear properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approach, padded socks with shoes with non-slip outsoles and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional.

Medical considerations:

A rupture of the Achilles tendon is a devastating injury that usually requires surgery and months of rest and rehabilitation. Therefore, it is important to treat any soreness and pain in the Achilles area quickly and effectively. See your doctor, who can properly diagnose the condition and provide advice on prevention and/or treatment. Also talk to your doctor if you have soreness, pain, redness, swelling or other indications of foot problems that persist for more than a few days.


Reviewed by: Robert P. Thompson, C.Ped, IPFH Scientific Advisory Board

Last updated: June 11, 2015  

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