Kim didn't do much over the summer except hang out at the pool. When she did wear something on her feet, it was often heels. But as soon as school started, she laced on a pair of sneakers and went out for the cross-country team, running a couple of miles each day.
Within a week, Kim noticed a pain just above her heel. At first it wasn't too bad, and she kept running. But before too long, the pain got worse and wouldn't go away. Kim had to stop running, and her coach told her to go see a doctor. The doctor examined her heel and told Kim she had Achilles tendonitis.
Your Achilles tendon is located at the back of your foot, just above your heel. It connects your heel to the two muscles of your calf and helps your foot push forward every time you take a step.
If the tendon becomes swollen or irritated due to overuse, it can lead to the painful condition called Achilles tendonitis. If Achilles tendonitis goes untreated, it can become a chronic (ongoing) condition that makes just walking around almost impossible.
Achilles tendonitis is a very common running injury. But it can also affect basketball players, dancers, or people who put a lot of repeated stress on their feet. It can be very painful.
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis start out slowly, with very little pain, and then grow worse over time. Some of the more common symptoms include:
If you think you might have Achilles tendonitis, check in with your doctor before it gets any worse. Your doc will ask about the activities you've been doing and will examine your leg, foot, ankle, and knee for range of motion.
If your pain is more severe, the doctor may also make sure you haven't ruptured (torn) your Achilles tendon. To check this, the doc might have you lie face down and bend your knee while he or she presses on your calf muscles to see if your foot flexes. Any flexing of the foot means the tendon is at least partly intact.
It's possible that the doctor might also order an X-ray or MRI scan of your foot and leg to check for fractures, partial tears of the tendon, or signs of a condition that might get worse.
Foot and ankle pain also might be a sign of other overuse injuries that can cause foot and heel pain, like plantar fasciitis and Sever's disease. If you also have any problems like these, they also need to be treated.
Achilles tendonitis is a common sports injury caused by repeated or intense strain on the tendon. But non-athletes also can get it if they put a lot of stress on their feet.
Other things that contribute to Achilles tendonitis include:
Take these steps to reduce your risk of Achilles tendonitis:
Most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be treated at home. Here's what to do:
Achilles tendon surgery is rarely needed. It's usually only done if the tendon breaks, and then only as a last resort after other methods of therapy have been tried. Most cases of Achilles tendonitis will get better on their own with rest and minor treatment.
Reviewed by: Suken A. Shah, MD
Date reviewed: October 2014
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