Do you have pain at the back of your foot, just above the heel? It could be Achilles tendinitis.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It is located at the back of the ankle joint and attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is used to walk, run, jump and push up on the toes. Achilles tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon and is most often caused by overuse, or is a result of a strain injury.
According to orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. Sean Peden, of Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS), aging and sports activities that involve a lot of calf muscle usage, like basketball, tennis and running, are the most common causes of inflammation of the Achilles tendon. The condition is also associated with a sudden increase of intensity or frequency of an exercise that involves repetitive foot and ankle actions.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis can start slowly and worsen over time. “People with Achilles tendinitis usually feel a dull ache or pain during activity and they may feel tenderness above the heel bone, particularly in the morning,” Dr. Peden said.
Stiffness that improves as the tendon warms up and mild swelling or a bump are other possible signs. However, sudden pain, swelling above the heel, difficulty walking or moving the foot up or down may indicate a more serious injury or rupture of the tendon, warned Dr. Peden.
“Whenever there’s pain in that tendon area, it’s a good idea to have an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist take a look at it to determine if it is due to tendinitis or a more serious condition such as a partial tendon tear, heel bursitis or a rupture,” he said.
Depending on the severity, Achilles tendinitis can be resolved in about six to eight weeks with anti-inflammatory medicine, ice and therapeutic exercises. To avoid a recurrence, it is important, to get clearance from your physician before fully returning to activities. Prolonged or repeated inflammation of the tendon may lead to a more serious chronic condition or tear.
ONS has offices in Greenwich and Stamford, Connecticut and Harrison, New York. Learn more at www.onsmd.com.