The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and although it is a strong tendon, it is very easily injured with overuse and degeneration. When this happens, the tendon becomes inflamed and painful, a condition known as Achilles tendonitis. If the condition is not treated, the tendon may break down over time and can lead to a complete rupture of the tendon.
An injury may occur where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone, known as insertional Achilles tendonitis, or it may be further up the tendon (non-insertional Achilles tendonitis). It is caused by a variety of factors, such as a sudden increase in physical activity, extended periods of wearing high-heeled shoes, overtraining during exercise, uphill running, and biomechanical issues such as flat feet.
Signs and Symptoms
- Pain at the back of the heel or further up the tendon that worsens with activity
- Pain and stiffness in the morning at the back of the heel or further up the tendon
- Warmth and swelling at the back of the heel or further up the tendon
- Limited motion of the ankle joint, especially when flexing the foot
- Tight calf muscles
- A popping sound may be heard at the time of injury if the tendon is torn (ruptured)