The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle of the leg. Injury to the tendon may cause it to become inflamed or torn. Achilles tendonitis is the term used when the tendon is inflamed. The inflammation causes pain at the back of your leg near the heel. A tear of the tendon is called a rupture.
Achilles tendonitis can be caused by overuse of the Achilles tendon, tight calf muscles, tight Achilles tendons, lots of uphill running, increasing the amount or intensity of sports training, over-pronation, wearing high heels during the day and switching to low heeled shoes for exercise.
An Achilles tendon tear may occur during a sudden activity such as jumping or starting a sprint.
Achilles tendonitis causes pain and may cause swelling over the Achilles tendon. You will have pain when you rise up on your toes and pain when you stretch the tendon. The range of motion of your ankle may be limited. When the tendon tears or ruptures, you may feel a pop. If there is a complete tear, you will be unable to lift you heel off the ground or point your toes.
Your doctor will examine your leg, looking for tenderness and swelling. Your provider will watch your feet when you walk or run to see if you over-pronate.
Initial treatment will include ice, elevation, anti-inflammatory medication, home exercises and activity modification. Your doctor may prescribe a heel lift or custom foot orthotic. In severe cases of Achilles tendonitis your foot may be put in a cast for several weeks. If the Achilles tendon is torn, surgery may be required to repair the tear. Physical therapy will follow the surgery.
Information obtained from The Sports Medicine Patient Advisor by Pierre Rouzier, MD