Patient Holding Back of Their Heel With Achilles Tendonitis | Annapolis PodiatristThe Achilles tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects the muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone. When this tendon becomes irritated, inflamed, or otherwise injured, it can cause painful symptoms that can make it difficult to get through your day. Are you suffering from pain above the back of your heel that worsens with activity, but eases with rest? Achilles tendon pain may be responsible.

Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center’s podiatrists adeptly diagnose and treat Achilles tendonitis at three convenient Annapolis podiatrist locations. Here’s what you should know.

Achilles Tendonitis Causes and Contributing Factors

Activities such as running and jumping can put a lot of strain on the Achilles tendon. Despite its thickness and strength, the Achilles tendon is susceptible to inflammation due to overuse, such as abrupt changes in the intensity or duration of exercise. The result is Achilles tendonitis, a common podiatric problem that often develops when the body is pushed beyond its current capacity during a workout—or if you’ve been working out too much.

Factors that can increase your risk for Achilles tendonitis include the following podiatric problems.

Bone Spurs

Bone spurs are abnormal bony growths that can occur in various parts of the body, including the feet. In some cases, a bone spur on the heel may be caused by plantar fasciitis, an inflammation or tearing of the plantar fascia ligament on the sole of the foot. This ligament helps to support your arch and absorb shock when you walk or run. When a bone spur develops on the heel, it can rub against and irritate the Achilles tendon, potentially leading to the development of Achilles tendonitis.

Tight Calf Muscles

Tight calf muscles can contribute to tendonitis by pulling on the tendon, increasing the likelihood of inflammation, overstretching, or tears. Muscle tightness in the lower legs can have many causes, including genetics, insufficient stretching before exercise, or participating in an intense workout program that targets the calf muscles.

Achilles Tendonitis Treatment

At Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center, our highly experienced and board-certified podiatric surgeons can diagnose Achilles tendonitis after discussing your symptoms and performing a thorough physical examination. For example, we may note that your Achilles tendon is thicker than usual or swollen, and that the condition affects your ankle mobility.

Fortunately, most cases of Achilles tendonitis respond well to nonoperative care. In fact, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is often enough to bring down the swelling and jumpstart the healing process. We may also recommend using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain. Depending on the severity of your condition, your treatment plan could also include the following interventions.

  • Custom orthotic inserts
  • Supportive shoes
  • Cortisone steroid injections
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT)
  • Strengthening exercises

When to Consider a Surgical Option

If your Achilles pain doesn’t improve after six months of nonoperative therapy, it could be time to consider surgery. Annapolis Foot & Ankle Center’s skillful podiatric surgeons offer surgical options for relief. Common surgical techniques for Achilles tendonitis involve lengthening the calf muscle or removing a section of the tendon.

Nicholas Fifelski, DPM
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Experienced Annapolis podiatrist specializing in all sports injuries, wound care, and ankle fracture surgery.