The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body, located in the back of the lower leg, attaching to the heel bone and connecting the leg muscles to the foot. Since the Achilles tendon gives us the ability to walk, having Achilles Tendonitis can make it difficult to walk. Achilles Tendonitis can be a very painful and sometimes debilitating problem.
As people age, tendons become less flexible and more susceptible to injury. Achilles Tendonitis is a common injury that tends to occur most often in middle-aged recreational athletes due to overuse. This overuse causes inflammation in the Achilles tendon that can lead to pain, swelling, and tears within the tendon and susceptibility to rupture. However, the pain associated with Achilles Tendonitis can also develop gradually over time without any history of trauma, materializing as a shooting, burning or piercing pain. Other factors associated with Achilles tendonitis are recent changes in exercise or training, and changes in footwear.
With Achilles Tendonitis, significant pain is typically experienced after periods of inactivity, such as during the first steps of the day and in getting up after sitting for long periods of time. Patients experiencing Achilles Tendonitis will also experience pain while participating in activities like running or jumping.
There are several factors that can cause Achilles Tendonitis. One of the most common causes is excessive pronation, which occurs during walking or running. The mid foot rolls inward and the arch drops upon weight bearing, thus adding stress on the Achilles tendon. Other factors that lead to Achilles Tendonitis are inadequate warm up prior to athletic activity, improper shoe selection, a short Achilles tendon, direct trauma or injury to the tendon and deformity of the heel bone.
Achilles tendonitis should not be left untreated due to the danger that the tendon can become weak and rupture.