Achilles Tendinitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis, also called Achilles heel tendinopathy, calcaneal tendonitis or Achilean tendonitis, is a lesion, most often related to mechanical overload, of the Achilles tendon, a tendon behind the ankle that connects the calf muscles (triceps sural) to the heel bone. By contracting, the calf muscle exerts traction on the tendon, causing plantar flexion and propulsion of the foot when you walk, run, jump, etc. With a sudden movement, the Achilles tendon can crack and rupture. The Achilles tendon in the heel becomes swollen, inflamed, and painful. Achilles tendonitis is very common in runners and athletes and can therefore occur at any age.

What are the causes of Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is usually caused by repeated stress on the tendon. This often happens when your body is overworked, especially after exercising too hard. This tendon can then become inflamed and the inflammation is accompanied by injury and infection.

Although overwork is the main cause of Achilles tendonitis, other factors can promote its onset:

  • After a sudden increase in the amount or intensity of an activity;
  • When the calf muscles are very tight (not stretched);
  • Bad foot statics (hollow or flat feet);
  • Wearing unsuitable footwear;
  • Frequent change of running shoes;
  • The practice of an important activity by bending the foot (running, basketball, volleyball, etc.);
  • Certain medical treatments such as quinolones and cortisone taken long term;
  • Lack of stretching and warming up the muscles before playing sports;

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?

The most common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are:

  • Stiffness that disappears as you warm up;
  • Redness along the tendon;
  • Localized pain on contraction (climbing stairs, tiptoeing; jumping.);
  • Pain and swelling near the heel;
  • Burning sensation along the tendon;
  • Limitation of ankle flexibility;
  • Cracking noise with movement of the ankle.
  • Tendon thickening.

Diagnosis of Achilles tendonitis?

The examination for Achilles tendonitis is a physical exam during which the doctor or podiatrist will ask you to stand on your tiptoes to examine the tendon tenderness and pain in the area. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor may order an additional test, such as an X-ray and ultrasound, to check for an Achilles tendon rupture. An MRI may be done if the doctor prefers surgery.

How to treat Achilles heel tendonitis?

There are many treatments for Achilles heel tendonitis, but only your doctor or podiatrist can tailor the treatment to suit your situation.

Medical treatments:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics;
  • Plantar flexion splints;
  • Injection of PRP under ultrasound (Platelet Rich Plasma) inside the tendon;
  • Laser treatment;
  • Surgical treatment after failure of conventional treatment.

Other treatments:

  • Partial or total rest;
  • Direct icing by massaging the painful area;
  • Deep transverse massages (M.T.P.).
  • Rehabilitation carried out by physiotherapy;
  • Osteopathy;
  • Wearing a viscoelastic heel pad in the shoe;

Make an appointment….

Our podiatrists can help you resume your sports activities safely. They can give you the best preventative advice to avoid getting Achilles tendonitis. 

PodiatreMD is a  network in downtown Montreal, on Rue Jean-Talon (corner Lucerne), Laval, West Island, and Gatineau. We are here to serve you. Our staff are as warm as they are competent and will know how to meet your needs.