Achilles tendinitis is an injury of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and it is used to walk, run and jump.
Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury that mainly occurs due to increased training intensity in runners or middle-aged people who play sports that require high activity.
The initial symptoms of Achilles tendinitis present a mild ache above the heel or in the back of the leg after a sports activity while sever pain may occur after prolonged running, sprinting and/or climbing.
Tenderness and stiffness are possible symptoms in the morning due to a period of inactivity.
Achilles tendinitis is caused by continuous strain on the Achilles tendon usually brought on by intensive training, running or sports activities.
The structure of the tendon weakens with age making it more susceptible to injury especially in middle-aged people.
There are a few factors that increase the risk of Achilles tendinitis such as:
- Sex and age: Middle-aged men are at greater risk of sustaining an injury to the Achilles tendon.
- Physical factors: Obesity, tight calf muscles and a flat arch in the foot increase tendon strain.
- Medical conditions: People suffering from diabetes or high blood pressure carry high risk for an Achilles tendinitis injury.
- Medications: Some types of antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones have been linked to higher rates of Achilles tendinitis.
- Training choices: Running or training in worn-out or poor quality shoes increase the risk of tendon injury as well as running on a steeply terrain can also increase predispositions to Achilles tendinitis. Moreover, pain in the tendon occurs more frequently in cold weather.
Achilles tendinitis injuries may weaken the tendon, which can make it more susceptible to a tear or rupture that is usually repaired surgically and would require physical therapy.
Prevention of an Achilles injury may not be possible; however there are steps to decrease the risk of Achilles tendinitis such as gradual increase of activity level, daily stretching, strengthening the calf muscles, good quality training shoes and switching to low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling.