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Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that causes pain along the back of the leg near the heel.

General Information:

Simply defined, tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon.  Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or disease and often causes swelling, pain, or irritation.  There are two types of Achilles tendinitis, based upon which part of the of the tendon is inflamed.

Noninsertional Achilles Tendinitis

In noninsertional Achilles tendinitis, fibers in the middle portion of the tendon have begun to break down with a tiny tear (degenerate), swell, and thicken.

Tendinitis of the middle portion of the tendon more commonly affects younger, active people.

Insertional Achilles Tendinitis

Insertional Achilles tendinitis involves the lower portion of the heel, where the tendon attaches to the heel bone.

In both noninsertional and insertional Achilles tendinitis, damaged tendon fibers may also calcify (harden).  Bone spurs (extra bone growth) often form with insertional Achilles tendinitis.

Tendinitis that affects the insertion of the tendon can occur at any time, even in patients who are not active.

What are the symptoms?

  • Common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include:
  • Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon in the morning
  • Pain along the tendon or back of the heel that worsens with activity
  • Severe pain the day after exercising
  • Thickening of the tendon
  • Bone spur (insertional tendinitis)
  • Swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the day with activity

If you have experienced a sudden "pop" in the back of your calf or heel, you may have ruptured (torn) your Achilles tendon.