Achilles tendonitis is characterized by pain localized to the back of the ankle just above the heel bone. It is most often described as aching or sharp. It is most pronounced with walking and climbing stairs. Pain in the Achilles tendon can increase sometimes to the point that it is unbearable to walk.
Achilles tendoniitis is caused by chronic degeneration of the tendon which occurs with excessive stress from a lifetime of activities such as running, basketball, golf, soccer and even walking. Genetic factors play a large role in who will develop symptoms. Once the tendon has become degenerated it results in inflammation which causes pain.
Achilles tendonitis is primarily diagnosed clinically, meaning that the doctor will make the diagnosis by the patient's description of pain and through the physical exam. Additional imaging modalities which can assist in the diagnosis include: x-ray, MRI, and musculoskeletal ultrasound, depending on the individual case.
Treatment of Achilles tendonitis involves a combination of therapies to decrease pain and restore function. Initial treatments involve RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Orthotic devices, or heel lifts, can be used to decrease the strain on the Achilles tendon. Additionally, physical therapy is often prescribed to increase strength of the affected muscles and increase range of motion. If conservative measures fail surgery is sometimes recommended to repair any portions of damaged or torn tendon.