Achilles tendonitis is a common condition of heel pain caused by the inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in our body and connects our calf muscles (tricep surae) to the back of the heel bone. The function of the Achilles tendon is to plantarflex our ankle joint, and allow us to push off during walking, running, or jumping. Achilles tendonitis is often misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis because of its similarities in the symptoms.
There are 2 forms of Achilles tendonitis – mid-portion tendonitis and insertional tendonitis.
Mid-portion Achilles tendonitis occurs in the midsection of the tendon, typically more than 2cm away from the back of the heel bone. Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs at the junction where the tendon attaches to the back of the heel bone.
Achilles tendonitis occurs as a result of overloading the tendon. When the Achilles tendon suffers tension beyond its limit to withstand, micro-tears within the tendon occurs. This can be due to a sudden increase in activity or prolonged overuse of the Achilles tendon.
The repeated process of micro-tears and self-healing will create a series of changes to the tendon structure, from inflammation to thickening and eventually degeneration of the Achilles tendon. If left untreated, one may face a risk of Achilles rupture.
Risk factors of Achilles tendonitis include:
Signs and symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include:
Achilles tendonitis treatment involves treating the injured tendon and addressing the underlying cause of the injury.
Treatment options for Achilles tendonitis include:
Your podiatrist should assess your condition thoroughly and guide you through treatment and recovery.