Achilles Tendinopathy

(Achilles Tendonitis; Achilles Tendinosis)


The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle at the heel bone. Achilles tendinopathy is pain in this tendon.

Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendonitis
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The exact cause is not known. It is thought to be from overuse from:

  • Increasing speed or running long distances too quickly
  • Suddenly adding hills or stair climbing to an exercise routine
  • Stressing the calf muscles too soon after taking time away from exercising
  • Putting sudden stress on the calf muscles when they are not ready for stress

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in men and older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Certain lower leg problems, such as lack of flexibility, poor range of motion, or a foot that turns inward too much
  • Certain health problems, such as obesity and diabetes
  • A poor training program, such as activity on hard surfaces or hills
  • Wearing poor footwear
  • Certain medicines, such as corticosteroids


Symptoms of tendinopathy may include:

  • Pain and stiffness above the heel bone
  • Problems that happen when bearing weight after rest, such as after sleeping
  • Swelling at the tendon
  • Problems wearing shoes
  • Decreased strength in the tendon


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked about the activities that you do. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your lower leg. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is unclear, images may be taken. This can be done with


Treatment depends on the tendon and how badly it is damaged. Options are:

  • Supportive care with rest and ice
  • Ankle taping to support the tendon
  • Shoe inserts
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy
  • Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) to stimulate healing

Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help.


This problem may be prevented by:

  • Wearing proper footwear
  • Slowly increasing activities
  • Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles


American College of Sports Medicine
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


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Updated June 2010. Accessed July 29, 2020.
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Accessed July 29, 2020.
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Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 3/10/2021

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