Achilles Tendonitis is often the result of overuse of the Achilles tendon, the tough band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is vital for actions like walking, running, climbing stairs, and standing on your toes. While this tendon is strong, some activities can inflame it and lead to tendonitis. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the area between the muscle and bone.
“It is one of the more common things I see,” said Dr. Benjamin R. Proto, DPM, FACFAS of TPMG Orthopedics. Athletes are at a greater risk of developing Achilles tendonitis, though it depends on the individual. Sometimes overactivity can cause tendonitis. Oftentimes, those who don’t perform dynamic stretching or preparation before exercising will see Achilles injuries.
Some risk factors for Achilles tendonitis include obesity, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, and flexibility problems. Stretching before you perform an activity is crucial for the prevention of Achilles tendonitis. Age is also a factor. As you get older, your risk increases. Your shoe choice affects your risk of developing Achilles tendonitis. Those who wear shoes with a heel might experience tendonitis. Wearing heels for long periods causes the Achilles tendon to shorten and adjust to its new position. Taking the heels off causes that tendon to elongate at once and, in doing so, stresses it.
There are a couple of indications you may have Achilles tendonitis. If you feel a twinge walking down the stairs or putting tension on the area, it may be a sign you have tendonitis. You may notice stiffness or swelling along the Achilles tendon. Some notice pain after sharp movements, like suddenly moving forward at a crosswalk.
“As easy it is to injure the Achilles tendon, it takes much longer to heal,” said Dr. Proto. In most cases, Achilles tendonitis can be treated by nonsurgical means, including physical therapy, prescription anti-inflammatories, cryotherapy, and immobilization. However, each individual’s case is different and some require surgical intervention.
With treatment and care, your Achilles tendonitis can heal. If you experience persistent pain around the Achilles tendon, it may be time to call your physician. Don’t let Achilles tendonitis stop you from enjoying the things you love. The quicker you seek treatment, the sooner you can return to activities you enjoy.
Benjamin R. Proto, DPM, FACFAS, joined TPMG Orthopedics in 2007 and has established himself as one of the Peninsula’s leading foot and ankle specialists, offering his patients the latest advancements in foot and ankle care. In his surgical practice, Dr. Proto utilizes minimally invasive techniques and specializes in partial and total joint replacement of the foot and ankle, ankle arthroscopy, and ankle fusion to address painful and dysfunctional joints.