(Achilles Tendonitis; Achilles Tendinosis)
Tendons are tough fibers that connect muscle to bone. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain and swelling and make it difficult to move. Tendinopathy may be:
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle at the heel bone. An achilles tendinopathy is pain in this tendon.
Tendinopathy is most often caused by overuse of a muscle and tendon. Over time, the regular strain on the tendon causes the structure of the tendon to change.
Overuse of the achilles tendon can happen with:
Risk Factors TOP
Achilles tendinopathy is more common in older adults due to the aging process. Other 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 and the doctor will check the motion of your ankle. A diagnosis will be made based on the exam and history.
Tendinopathy may take weeks or months to fully heal. Treatments include:
Full rest is usually not needed. Tendons do need a break from activities that are causing pain. A gradual return to normal activity will decrease the chance of damaging the tendon again.
Other supportive steps may include, icing the area, shoe inserts, or ankle taping. 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 strengthen and stretch the calf muscles. This can help with recovery and in preventing future injuries.
To decrease your chances of getting Achilles tendonitis:
American College of Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Achilles tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114274/Achilles-tendinopathy. Updated April 21, 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
Achilles tendinitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
Common disorders of the achilles tendon. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at:
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 Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114274/Achilles-tendinopathy: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed March 2017 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT