What is an Achilles tendon injury?
The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the calf muscle of the leg. Because of injury the tendon can become inflamed or torn.
Achilles tendonitis is the term used when the tendon is inflamed. The inflammation causes pain at the back of the leg near the heel. A tear is called a rupture.
How does it occur?
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
Changes in shoe wear
Over-pronation (feet rolling inward and flattening with walking or running)
Wearing high heels at work and then switching to lower heeled shoes for exercise
Tears may occur during sudden activity or movements, i.e. jumping, sprinting
What are the symptoms?
Generally people experience pain and possibly swelling over the Achilles tendon. You may have pain when you rise up on your toes and when you stretch the tendon. The range of motion of the ankle may be limited.
When a tendon tears or ruptures, you may feel a pop. If there is a complete tear, you will be unable to lift the heel off the ground or point the toes.
How is it diagnosed?
Your health care provider will examine your leg, looking for tenderness or swelling. The provider may watch you walk or run. Diagnostic tests may be done.
How is it treated?
Icing for 15-20 minutes, three times/day
Take medication as prescribed by your physician
Your health care provider may prescribe a heel lift
Activity modification, avoiding activities that caused the injury or make it worse
Do exercises as prescribed by your physical therapist for stretching or strengthening
Use specific shoe wear or inserts recommended by your health care provider
If you have a tear, surgery may be required