What is the Achilles tendon?
Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It lets you rise up on
your toes and push off when you walk or run.
two main problems found in the Achilles tendon are:
- Achilles tendinopathy. Achilles tendinopathy includes one of two conditions:
- Tendinitis. This actually means "inflammation of the tendon," but inflammation is
rarely the cause of tendon pain.
- Tendinosis. This refers to tiny
tears (microtears) in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse. In
most cases Achilles tendon pain is the result of tendinosis, not tendinitis.
Some experts now use the term tendinopathy to include both inflammation and
microtears. But many doctors may still use the term tendinitis to describe a
- Achilles tendon tear or rupture. An Achilles tendon also can partially tear or
completely tear (rupture) . A partial tear may cause mild or no symptoms. But a
complete rupture causes pain and sudden loss of strength and movement.
Problems with the Achilles tendon may seem to happen
suddenly. But usually they are the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that
have happened over time.
What causes Achilles tendon problems?
tendon problems are most often caused by overuse or repeated movements. These
movements can happen during sports, work, or other activities. For example, if
you do a lot of pushing off or stop-and-go motions when you play sports, you
can get microtears in the tendon. Microtears can also happen with a change in
how long, hard, or often you exercise. Microtears in the tendon may not be able
to heal quickly or completely.
Being out of shape or not warming
up before exercising may also cause Achilles tendon problems. So can shoes with
poor arch supports or rigid heels.
An Achilles rupture is most
often caused by a sudden, forceful motion that stresses the calf muscle. This
can happen during an intense athletic activity or even during simple running or
jumping. Middle-aged adults are especially likely to get this kind of
A rupture most often occurs in sports such as basketball,
racquet sports (including tennis), soccer, and softball. A tendon already weakened by overstretching, inflammation,
or small tears is more likely to rupture.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Achilles tendon
problems include swelling in the ankle area and mild or severe pain. The pain
may come on gradually or may only occur when you walk or run. You may have less
strength and range of movement in the ankle.
A rupture of the
Achilles tendon may cause a sudden, sharp pain. Most people feel or hear a pop
at the same time. Swelling and bruising may occur, and you may not be able to
point your foot down or stand on your toes.
How are Achilles tendon problems diagnosed?