Achilles Tendon Disorders

The achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body and it connects your calf muscles to your calcaneus or your heel bone. The achilles tendon helps with walking by lifting your heel off of the ground.

The Achilles tendon can be irritated and inflamed, leading to Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendonitis is the acute phase of irritation and inflammation that will potentially lead to pain of the Achilles Tendon. If left untreated, this can develop into Achilles tendinosis, which is a more chronic state of inflammation and pain within the Achilles tendon. This can also lead to degeneration of the Achilles tendon that can happen on its insertion on the calcaneus or heel bone, or within the substance of the Achilles tendon body itself.

Causes of Achilles Tendon Pathology

Achilles tendon pathology can develop as an overuse injury which is caused by an increase in some type of repetitive activity that requires the Achilles tendon to function. For example, a sudden increase in the amount of running you are doing may lead to Achilles Tendonitis developing. This type of sudden repetitive movements put alot of stress and strain on the Achilles tendon leading to micro-injury that cannot heal itself because of continued stress being applied to the Achilles tendon. This leads to the structure of the Achilles tendon changing and leading to your pain.

People that are at a higher risk for developing Achilles tendon pathology are athletes, “weekend warriors”, laborers and people with flat feet.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Pathology

  • Pain.  You will feel soreness, tenderness or pain along the tendon itself or where it inserts on the heel bone.

  • Palpable Nodules. When the pathology becomes chronic and pain has been present for some time, you can feel nodules and areas of thickened tissue.

Conservative Treatment Options

Some treatment options include:

  • Immobilization – The achilles tendon can be immobilized to allow it to heal and reduce the stress going through the tendon.

  • Anti-inflammatory medication can be taken to reduce inflammation thereby reducing pain. 

  • Ice and manual massage can help decrease pain and inflammation through the tendon as well.

  • Orthotics can address biomechanical causes that may be contributing to your Achilles tendon pathology and pain. 

  • Stretching can help lengthen the muscles that become the Achilles Tendon to decrease the stress placed across the tendon and heel bone.

Surgical Treatment Options

When conservative options fail to improve pain, surgical intervention can be offered. Surgery would help repair the tendon. The best surgical treatment option for you will be discussed.