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The Achilles Tendon is the thick tendon at the back of the heel. It’s formed by the two calf muscles, the deeper soleus and the overlying gastrocnemius. It attaches to the back of the heel bone. The primary function of the tendon is to flex the foot. Therefore it’s involved in helping you raise up on your tiptoes, and propelling you forward when you run.
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis are repetitive overuse or by recurring microscopic tears. Less common causes are drug-induced, notably from using fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Cipro and Levaquin, and from steroid use, and from certain medical conditions such as undiagnosed or poorly controlled Thyroid Disease. Sometimes the tendon completely ruptures, in which case surgery needs to be considered.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis include pain and/or stiffness in the Achilles during or after activity, thickening or swelling of the tendon, nodule formation in the tendon (it looks like a marble stuck in the middle of the tendon), and tenderness when squeezing the tendon.
Diagnosing Achilles Tendinitis usually is straightforward. Physical exam inmost cases confirms the diagnosis. Diagnostic ultrasound can be helpful to identify any tears within the tendon. At the New England Stem Cell Institute we’re experts in diagnostic ultrasound
Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis starts with conservative approaches including physical therapy, ice/heat, heel cups/lifts (to reduce the tension on the tendon), tension night splints, and stretching & strengthening exercises. When conservative measures fail the TenJet or Tenex may be helpful. Certain types of nerve blocks can also be helpful in reducing or alleviating pain and in promoting tendon healing and repair. But when all conventional treatments don’t help then Regenerative Medicine treatments such as Prolotherapy, PRP and other orthobiologics often can help. These treatments take advantage of the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
It’s important to note, however, that even if treatment is successful in eliminating your pain and getting you back to your activities, the thickened tendon possibly may never return to its normal pre-injured size.