The Achilles Tendon is the thick tendon at the back of the heel. It’s formed by the two calf muscles-- the deeper soleus muscle and the overlying gastrocnemius muscle. 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.
What causes Achilles Tendinitis?
Repetitive overuse or recurring microscopic tears are the most common causes. 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.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?
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.
How is Achilles Tendinitis diagnosed?
Diagnosing Achilles Tendinitis usually is straightforward. Physical exam in most 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.
How is Achilles Tendinitis treated?
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 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.