Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis Specialist
If you’re a runner, basketball player, soccer sensation or tennis ace, you’re at an increased risk for achilles tendonitis, a common wear and tear sports injury that can cause ankle pain, swelling, and stiffness. Dr. Floyd Pacheco, Jr. at Sandia Foot and Ankle in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is highly-experienced in helping athletes, as well as, non-athletes remedy Achilles tendonitis pain and get back in the game.

Achilles Tendonitis Q&A

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury causing pain, inflammation, or the degeneration of the Achilles tendon located at the back of the ankle. It is the largest tendon in your body and stretches from the bones of your heel to your calf muscle. This tendon allows you to push your foot down, and use your Achilles tendon when walking, running, and jumping.

What causes Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is the result of repetitive or intense strain on the Achilles tendon. As you age, the structure of your tendon weakens, making it susceptible to injury. This is an especially common issue among weekend warriors. Starting an aggressive exercise program can also put additional stress on your Achilles tendon by causing tight calf muscles.

Additionally, bone spurs - extra bone growth where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone - can rub against the tendon causing pain.This condition is common in professional athletes and middle-aged people who play weekend sports like basketball or tennis. Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon that joins the back of your leg to your heel becomes inflamed and painful near the bottom of the foot.

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?

The first sign of Achilles tendonitis usually is a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or participating in a sports activity. You also may experience tenderness and stiffness, often in the morning, which usually subsides with mild activity. However, further activity worsens your condition, and over time it takes less exercise to aggravate and cause more pain. If you experience a sudden pop in the back of your calf or heel, you may have ruptured or torn your Achilles tendon. If this happens to you, call Dr. Pacheco immediately.

How is Achilles tendonitis diagnosed?

Dr. Pacheco gently examines the affected area to determine the location of the pain, tenderness, or swelling. This helps him evaluate the flexibility, alignment, range of motion, and reflexes of your foot and ankle. An X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound may eliminate other possible causes of pain and swelling and assess damage to the tendon.

How is Achilles tendonitis treated?

The RICE approach is commonly used to treat Achilles tendon injuries. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You also should take anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen for the pain and swelling.

  • Rest -  Use crutches to prevent placing pressure on your tendon for one to two days, until you can walk without pain.
  • Ice - Place a cloth wrapped bag of ice against your skin and hold it on your tendon for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the ice and allow the tendon to warm up. Repeat as needed. This makes the inflammation and swelling go down faster.
  • Compression - Wrap an ACE bandage around your tendon to compress the injury
  • Elevation - To reduce the swelling, raise your foot above the level of your heart.

*Individual results may vary

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