If you have pain in the back of your heel you may have what is commonly referred to as Achilles tendonitis, a condition in which a large tendon (Achilles tendon) which connects your heel bone to your calf muscle becomes irritated and inflamed. Achilles tendonitis can be accompanied by small tears within the tendon which make it susceptible to a more pronounced partial tear or complete rupture.
Typically it is the microtears within the Achilles tendon that cause the pain, not the inflammation. Because microtears weaken the tendon, identifying the cause and severity of your tendon injury early by a professional is the first important step to pain-free mobility and prevention of further damage.
You may have Achilles tendonitis if you have experienced some of the following symptoms:
There are several common reasons why you may have developed heel pain and Achilles tendonitis. Generally, it is the repeated motion and stress of the tendon which causes this condition. Inflammation and microtears within the tendon can develop from:
Long distance runners will often develop symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, especially after mileage is increased in preparation for a sporting event. Activities like hiking which heavily rely on calf muscles also place additional stress on Achilles tendon. Older recreational athletes are especially prone to developing Achilles tendonitis and related tendon injuries to which Achilles tendonitis can lead.
To you in may seem that the problem has developed suddenly, but usually damage to the tendon and microtears happen over time. Depending on your activity level, microtears may not have enough time to heal. This can result in a weakened tendon and one that is susceptible to rupture.
A rupture of the weakened Achilles tendon is usually accompanied by sudden sharp pain. Most people report hearing or feeling a pop when the tendon is torn.
If you have heel pain or suspect you have injury to your Achilles tendon, an early professional evaluation and an accurate diagnosis can help you avoid more aggressive treatments like surgery in the future.
We advise our patients to call us and immediately reduce or avoid activity which stresses the weakened tendon. Because we offer a free initial exam, and because a comprehensive evaluation is the best first step to accurate diagnosis and treatment of a sprained tendon, we recommend that you consult Foot and Ankle Institute of the West as soon as your problem develops.
Your ability to experience activities you love, like participating in sports, playing with your kids, jogging, and even basic activities like walking pain-free rely on your healthy feet and healthy tendons. We can help you address heel pain before it becomes a more serious and costly ailment.