Achilles Tendon Injuries: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Doctor Spotlight

Oct 19, 2023

The Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, is the largest tendon in the body. This important tendon gives us the ability to walk, run, and jump. However, the Achilles tendon is also prone to overuse injuries and tears.

“Tendonitis is more of an overuse injury. The word ‘itis’ means inflammation,” explains Dr. Paul Maloof of Tidewater Orthopaedics. There are two main types of Achilles tendonitis:

Insertional - Inflammation where the tendon attaches to the heel bone. A bone spur can develop causing pain. Treated with rest, physical therapy, shoe inserts.

Non-Insertional - Swelling and pain higher up on the tendon due to overuse. Treated the same way as insertional tendonitis.

A full rupture of the Achilles tendon often happens suddenly during sports. Patients describe feeling a “pop” and severe pain. The tendon can be repaired surgically by stitching the ends back together through a small incision. Rehab takes 6-12 months.

For Achilles tendonitis, Dr. Maloof tries more conservative treatments first like immobilization, physical therapy, and shoe inserts to reduce irritation. Surgery is a last resort if those methods fail.

After Achilles rupture surgery, the goal is to get patients back to their prior level of function whether it’s sports, work activities, or daily living. Each rehab plan is customized. Single heel raises are used to test recovery before running or impact activity is permitted.

Achilles issues can be painful and debilitating. At Tidewater Orthopaedics, our foot and ankle specialists like Dr. Maloof tailor treatment based on each patient's unique needs and goals. Contact us today if you have Achilles pain - we're here to help you get back on your feet!

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