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Orthopedic Specialists -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic Surgeons located in Palm Harbor, FL

Achilles Tendinitis Q & A

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What is the Achilles tendon?

This tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, is the largest tendon in the body. It enables you to walk, run and jump. 

What is Achilles tendinitis?

Achilles tendinitis is a common inflammatory condition marked by pain and swelling of the lower calf or back of the heel.  In severe cases, parts of the tendon can also calcify, or harden.  There are two types of Achilles tendonitis:

  • Insertional Achilles tendinitis occurs in the lowest part of the tendon, where it joins (inserts into) the heel bone
  • Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis occurs in the middle (about 3-5 cm) of the tendon, above the heel bone

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinitis?

Common symptoms include pain and stiffness of the tendon in the morning, after activity, or after exercising. Other signs are a thickening of the tendon, a bone spur, limited range of motion, or persistent swelling of the tendon or heel. 

If you feel a sudden “pop” in the heel or lower calf, you may have torn (ruptured) your Achilles tendon. Call our office immediately.

How is Achilles tendinitis diagnosed?

 Our board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon will perform a thorough examination of the lower calf, heel, and foot.  He or she will check for tenderness, range of motion, and thickening of the Achilles tendon. 

Diagnostic imaging tests may be ordered, such as x-rays to check for calcification of the tendon or a bone spur. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help differentiate partial Achilles tendon tears from tendon inflammation.   

What’s the best treatment for Achilles tendinitis?

Nonsurgical treatment is sufficient in many cases. This may include:

  • Rest – Stopping or modifying activities that aggravate the condition or using a walking boot
  • Ice – Placing cold packs on the painful area for 20 minutes at a time 
  • Medication – Anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections to reduce pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy and special exercises – To reduce tendon stress and strengthen calf muscles
  • Shoe inserts or orthotics to alleviate stress on the tendon

Surgery is considered only after several months of nonsurgical treatment. 

Healing can be a slow process. The location and intensity of symptoms will determine when a patient can resume activity. In some cases, a full return to certain types of sports, such as sprinting and running, may not be possible. 

 The board-certified, fellowship-trained doctors at Orthopedic Specialists have deep expertise in diagnosing and treating Achilles tendonitis and many other foot and ankle conditions. Call today or schedule an appointment online.

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