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The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body. It serves to connect calf muscles to the heel bone. The tendon is critical in walking, running, climbing stairs, jumping and standing on your tip toes. When this tendon becomes irritated and inflamed, the condition is called tendonitis.

Treatment for Achilles tendonitis depends upon the cause and the severity of the problem. Your doctor will look for swelling in the tendon area and a thickening or enlargement of the tendon. The area will be palpitated to identify painful areas along the tendon. The doctor will also want to determine the range of motion in the ankle.

You may need to undergo imaging testing as well. Tests may include x-rays to check the bones and identify any areas of possible calcification. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be required if you are advised to have surgery on the tendon. This imaging test can reveal the severity of the damage to the tendon. Your doctor will determine the best procedure to repair the level of damage.

Causes of Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common condition that happens with repetitive stress. It can also happen when you increase or intensify the amount of activity or exercise you do that involves use of the tendon. Runners who increase their distance drastically are susceptible to Achilles tendonitis.

Individuals with tight calf muscles need to be careful when starting an aggressive exercise program. The added stress on the Achilles tendon could cause problems resulting in tendonitis.

Another cause of Achilles tendonitis is extra bone growth on the heel bone. These bone spurs often rub against the tendon, resulting in pain and discomfort.

Symptoms

The symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis include:

  • Morning pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon
  • Increasing pain in the back of the heel and along the tendon when participating in activities
  • Severe pain in the area the day after exercising
  • Thickening of the tendon
  • Continuous swelling that gets worse with activity
  • Bone spurs

If you experience sudden pain and hear a pop in the back of your ankle or heel, you may have a ruptured Achilles tendon. This condition requires immediate medical care.

RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) will help to reduce discomfort and swelling. You can also use ibuprofen or naproxen to help reduce the pain and swelling. Your doctor will recommend specific exercises to help strengthen calf muscles to reduce the stress on your Achilles tendon.

Contact Dr. Mogul’s office to schedule an appointment for examination and diagnosis of your Achilles tendon problem.

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