Achilles Tendon Disorders

Achilles Tendon Disorders

The Achilles tendon is the tendonous extension of three muscles in the lower leg: gastrocnemius, soleus, and plantaris. The Achilles tendon facilitates walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground.

Two common disorders that occur in the heel are Achilles tendonitis and Achilles tendonosis:

  • Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon, generally due to overuse of the affected limb or as part of a strain injury.
  • More common is Achilles tendinosis, a degenerative condition with inflammation of the tendon, often accompanied by pain and swelling of the surrounding tissue.

The symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis include:

  • Pain: aching, stiffness, soreness, or tenderness within the tendon.
  • Tenderness, or sometimes intense pain, when the sides of the tendon are squeezed.
  • When the disorder progresses to degeneration, the tendon may become enlarged and may develop nodules in the area where the tissue is damaged.

Athletes are at high risk for developing disorders of the Achilles tendon. In addition, people with excessive pronation (flattening of the arch) have a tendency to develop

In diagnosing Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, the podiatrist will examine the patient's foot and ankle and evaluate the range of motion and condition of the tendon. The extent of the condition can be further assessed with x-rays, ultrasound or MRI.

Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are selected on the basis of how long the injury has been present and the degree of damage to the tendon.