Tendons connect muscle to bone and often connect near a joint. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain and swelling and makes it difficult to move. Tendinopathy may be:
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. An achilles tendinopathy is pain in this tendon.
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Tendinopathy is generally caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. Over time, the strain on the tendon causes structural changes within the tendon.
Overuse of the Achilles tendon can occur with activities such as:
Achilles tendinopathy is more common in older adults due to the aging process. Factors that may increase your risk of getting Achilles tendinopathy include:
Symptoms of tendinopathy may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and exercise habits. A physical exam will be done. A diagnosis will be made based on the exam and history.
Images of the bones and tendons may be taken. This can be done with:
Tendinopathy and the associated pain may take months to resolve. It can be frustrating, but it is important to follow through with the advised treatment.
The tendon will need time to heal. Treatment may include:
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain.
A physical therapist will assess the tendon. Ultrasound and/or massage may be done to help relieve tension.
An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the calf muscles.
American College of Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Achilles tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 26, 2015. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Achilles tendinitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00147. Updated June 2010. Accessed February 29, 2016.
Common disorders of the achilles tendon. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/achilles-tendon.htm. Accessed February 29, 2016.
de Jonge S, van den Berg C, de Vos RJ, et al. Incidence of midportion Achilles tendinopathy in the general population. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(13):1026-1028.
Irwin TA. Current concepts review: insertional achilles tendinopathy. Foot Ankle Int. 2010;31(10):933-939.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT Last Updated: 2/28/2014