The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It attaches your calf muscle to the back of the heel bone (calcaneus). This tendon is used whenever we walk, run or jump. The Achilles tendon can be a problem for some runners. It can commonly be injured or irritated by a sudden increase in mileage, increase in hill running, a tight calf muscle or a heel spur. When the tendon becomes injured or irritated, it can cause swelling, pain and burning. The pain and swelling can occur at the insertion to the heel bone or higher up in the tendon itself. Runners can also have inflammation of the bursa, a fluid filled sack between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone. These problems can put running on hold.
Common treatments for Achilles tendonitis:
Cross training with swimming
Ice or contrast bathes of warm water followed immediately by cold water
Achilles tendon supports/brace (dispensed by podiatrists)
Supportive shoes and orthotics
Severe cases can require surgery
Steroid injections are usually not recommended due to the possibility of tendon rupture following steroid injections
As with any pain or injury you experience, you should pay attention to it and seek treatment. I always tell my patients that the body is smart and gives you many clues when it needs help. If you don’t listen to it, you can end up with something worse. Chronic tendonitis can lead to Achilles tendon rupture. An Achilles rupture would usually require surgery followed by casting with non-weight bearing for months.
Dr. Baker received her undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree in biology and natural science at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. She graduated with honors, Cum Laude and was granted her Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in May of 2000. She completed her residency training for foot and ankle surgery in Philadelphia at Tenet Parkview Hospital. Dr. Baker is Board Certified in foot surgery by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Dr. Baker is also trained in the treatment and prevention of diabetic foot complications and is a Fellow of the American Professional Wound Care Association.