The Achilles Tendon: Achilles Tendonitis and Achilles Tendon Tears

Located in the back of the leg above the heel, the Achilles tendon is one of the longest tendons in the body. The Achilles tendon is responsible for connecting the muscles that are located in the back of the leg to the heel bone and help the foot pivot and flex properly.

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury that causes chronic inflammation and pain. Both professional and recreational athletes can contract Achilles tendonitis when either upping the intensity of their training program, or beginning a training program without proper conditioning. Depending on the severity of symptoms, your physician may recommend a few different courses of treatment. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help relieve swelling, inflammation, and pain, and can help get an Achilles tendonitis patient through their daily activities. Your doctor may also recommend bracing the ankle to keep it stable and prevent further injury. If the tendonitis is extremely advanced, severe, or involves toughened, fibrous tissue, your orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Bone and Joints Specialists may recommend surgery to repair any damage and remove any tissue that is causing inflammation and pain..

Achilles tendon tears are also seen among professional and recreational athletes. A tendon tear can occur when the foot is pivoted beyond its normal range of motion, and most tears occur right above the heel at the back of the leg. Symptoms of an Achilles tendon tear include the inability to bend the foot downward, the inability to walk or loss of mobility, and pain, heat and swelling in the area of the heel. If the Achilles tendon has torn completely, your orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists may recommend surgery to repair the tendon. If the tear is partial or very small, your doctor may advise that you be casted or braced, and rest the injured foot. Surgery is generally performed for those who lead active lifestyles and wish to resume their sports and activities.

If feel that you may have an Achilles tendon injury, it is important to seek care as soon as possible. If the tear is partial and you do not receive treatment, it may tear completely. Likewise, if your tendon has torn completely and you avoid treatment, you may cause further damage to the surrounding bones, tissues, muscles, ligaments and tendons. If you are suffering from pain that is coming from above the heel at the back of the leg or you've lost the ability to walk normally, make an appointment to see an orthopedic surgeon at Arizona Bone and Joint Specialists as soon as possible.