The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body, located in the back of the lower leg, attaching to the heel bone and connecting the leg muscles to the foot. Since the Achilles tendon gives us the ability to walk, having Achilles Tendonitis can make it almost impossible difficult to walk, making Achilles Tendonitis a very painful and sometimes debilitating problem.
As people age, tendons become less flexible and more susceptible to injury. Achilles Tendonitis is a common injury that tends to occurs often in middle-aged recreational athletes due to overuse. This overuse causes inflammation in the Achilles tendon that can lead to pain and swelling, tears within the tendon and susceptibility to rupture. However, the pain associated with Achilles Tendonitis can also develop gradually over time without any history of trauma, materializing as a shooting, burning or piercing pain. Other factors associated with Achilles tendonitis are recent changes exercise training and changes in footwear.
With Achilles Tendonitis, significant pain is typically experienced after periods of inactivity, such as during the first steps of the day and in getting up after sitting for long periods of time. Patients experiencing Achilles Tendonitis will also experience pain while participating in activities like running or jumping.
There are several factors that can cause Achilles Tendonitis. The most common cause is over-pronation, which occurs in the walking process when the arch collapses upon weight bearing, thus adding stress on the Achilles tendon. Other factors that lead to Achilles Tendonitis are inadequate stretching warm up prior to athletic activity, improper shoe selection, a short Achilles tendon, direct trauma or injury to the tendon and deformity of the heel bone.
Achilles tendonitis should not be left untreated due to the danger that the tendon can become weak and ruptured.