What Is Achilles Tendinitis and What Are the Symptoms?

Maintaining an active lifestyle is vital for good health, no matter your age. Many people who enjoy staying active opt for sports on the weekend or daily solitary exercises like walks, runs or hikes. Staying in tune with your body and heeding warnings signs when they manifest is the best way to reduce your risk of suffering sport injuries while participating in these activities.

The Achilles tendon is the strongest tendon in the human body. It is the large tendon that connects the calf muscles in the back of the lower leg to the heel. This tendon plays an essential role in lifting the heel off the ground during activities like walking, running and jumping.

When the Achilles tendon is strained by intense or repetitive use through activity, it can become inflamed, leading to Achilles tendinitis, a relatively minor sports injury.

This injury can often be treated at home through stretches with proper professional guidance from an orthopedist or physical therapist.

What is Achilles Tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury. It occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, swollen or irritated from being overworked. Runners and athletes participating in sports that necessitate a lot of sprinting or running are particularly likely to experience Achilles tendinitis. Sudden increases in the intensity or duration of runs raises the likelihood of suffering from Achilles tendinitis.

Risk Factors

Age: The Achilles tendons, like most tendons in the body, weaken as you age.

Flat arches in your feet: A flat arch will place a greater strain on the Achilles tendon, increasing the risk of developing Achilles tendinitis.

Worn-Out Shoes: When running and doing other strenuous activities, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear. Shoes that don’t fit correctly can lead to an over-strained Achilles tendon.

Weekend Sports: Playing sports on the weekend that involve intense sporadic movement, like tennis or basketball, can lead to Achilles tendonitis. Your risk factors may vary depending on the intensity of the play.

Another less controllable factor in Achilles tendinitis is the weather. Cold weather can tighten muscles and make straining your Achilles tendon more likely. Men are also more likely to develop Achilles tendinitis than women.

While knowing what might lead to developing Achilles tendinitis is important, it’s also important to be aware of the associated symptoms.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis

Most symptoms of Achilles tendinitis are localized along the Achilles tendon. If you experience sudden and persistent pain, see a doctor. Common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include: 

  • Discomfort in the heel while walking or running
  • Discomfort or pain along the length of the calf where the tendon is located
  • A feeling of pain or stiffness in the morning along the calf
  • Touch-based pain in the Achilles tendon area
  • A warm and swollen heel or tendon
  • Difficulty standing or walking on tiptoes

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and would like a diagnosis, we encourage you to begin by speaking with your primary care provider or by reaching out to our orthopedic and sports injury specialists.

What You Can Expect During Diagnosis for Achilles Tendinitis

Diagnosis for Achilles tendinitis begins with a healthcare professional performing a physical exam. During this process, they will feel for tenderness and swelling along the Achilles tendon and your heel.

Following a physical examination, the doctor might call for an X-Ray to look for potential issues with your bones and to rule out the possibility of calcification along the heel.

An MRI scan may also be recommended. MRIs are excellent at measuring tendon thickness and can detect a tear in your Achilles tendon.

Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis

Although being diagnosed with Achilles tendinitis is never great news, it is one of the lesser potential tendon injuries. Many patients can manage their condition and treat it at home without surgery.

A healthcare provider might recommend changes to your habits to reduce the amount of strain placed on the Achilles tendon. They will also recommend special exercises and stretches to promote healing and prevent additional injuries in the future.

Schedule an Appointment with Our Achilles Tendinitis Experts in Roseburg

If you are seeking treatment for Achilles tendinitis or a related condition, contact Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry for an appointment by calling 541.229.2663. Our doctors use their extensive orthopedic knowledge and experience treating all types of sports injuries to help patients get back to normal fast.