What is Achilles Tendinopathy?Achilles tendinopathy (sometimes called Achilles tendinitis) is a condition that causes pain in the back of the leg, just above the heel. It happens when people hurt their Achilles tendon. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. You use your Achilles tendon when you walk, run, and jump.
What causes Achilles tendinopathy?Achilles tendinopathy can happen when people:
- Suddenly increase their exercise or activity (such as running)
- Do the same exercises or activities (such as jumping) over and over
- Don’t warm up their calf muscles before exercising
- Exercise in shoes or sneakers that are worn-out or not made for exercise
- Have arthritis or a bone growth on the back of their heel bone – This can rub against the tendon and hurt it
What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?The most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the back of the leg, just above the heel – The pain usually gets worse with exercise and better with rest.
- Stiffness or soreness in the back of the leg, especially in the morning
- Swelling of the skin over the Achilles tendon
- Trouble standing on tiptoe
- Sudden, severe pain in the back of the leg
- Trouble putting weight on the foot or walking normally
- Rest your Achilles tendon and avoid activities that cause pain
- Ice the area – Put a cold gel pack, bag of ice, or bag of frozen vegetables on the injured area every 1 to 2 hours, for 15 minutes each time. Put a thin towel between the ice (or other cold object) and your skin.
- Wrap your ankle with an elastic bandage (or other wrap) – This can help keep your tendon from moving too much. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to wrap your ankle correctly.
- Take medicine to reduce the pain and swelling – Your doctor might recommend that you take a “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug” or “NSAID.” NSAIDs are a group of medicines that includes ibuprofen and naproxen.
- Do exercises to make your calf muscles stronger – Your doctor or physical therapist (exercise expert) will show you which exercises to do.
- A device to wear in your shoe or around your ankle to keep your foot in a position where it can heal properly
- Warm up your muscles before you exercise. For example, if you run, you can warm up your muscles by jogging slowly and then slowly increasing your pace.
- Avoid sudden increases in your exercise or activity. When you begin a sport or activity, start off slowly. Over time, you can exercise harder and for longer periods of time.
- Avoid running or exercising outside in cold weather. If you need to be outside, wear warm clothes.
- Wear the correct sneakers or shoes for your sport or activity.
- Replace worn-out sneakers or shoes.
- Avoid running on hard surfaces.