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Achilles Tendon Pain & Tendinitis

A tendon is a band of tissue that attaches the muscle to the bone, and it is fibrous, tough, flexible and can withstand tension. While a ligament extends at a joint from bone to bone, a tendon tends to extend from bone to muscle. Tendons and muscles work alongside each other to exert a pulling force.

Although tendons and ligaments are fibrous and tough, they are known as soft tissue because compared to the bone, they are soft.

The Achilles tendon is located between the calf muscle at the lower leg and the heel bone. Achilles tendinitis or tendonitis occurs when this tendon is overused or put under excess strain resulting in inflammation or microtears. The injury is mostly sports-related, but it can also be caused by shoes that do not support the food properly or do not fit well.

Causes Tendon Pain and Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is caused by intense strain on the Achilles tendon. This is the tendon that you use when walking, running, jumping or when pushing up against your toes.

The Achilles tendon structure weakens with age and it can cause individuals who particularly participate in sports once or twice a week or those who suddenly increase the intensity of their sports activities to be more susceptible to injury.  There are also other factors which can increase your risk of developing Achilles tendinitis such as:

  • Age: It is more common as you grow older
  • Sex: It mostly occurs in men
  • Physical issues: Having a naturally flat arch in your foot, tight calf or being obese puts more strain on the Achilles tendon.
  • Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with high blood pressure arthritis or psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing Achilles tendinitis
  • Using worn out or incorrect shoes when exercising
  • Running on uneven surfaces

Symptoms Tendon Pain and Tendinitis

Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include:

  • Gradual build-up of pain which worsens over time
  • A sore Achilles tendon
  • Pain at the back of the leg after exercising
  • The lower leg feeling slow, stiff or weak
  • Swelling of the Achilles tendon which forms a bump
  • Creaking of the Achilles tendon when moved or touched

Diagnosis Tendon Pain and Tendinitis

After asking about the symptoms, your physician will perform a physical examination. This will involve lightly touching the back of the tendon and ankle so as to locate the exact source of the inflammation or pain. He/she will then test the ankle and foot to see if its flexibility and range of motion is impaired.

Imaging tests such as an x-ray, ultrasound or MRI helps to eliminate other possible causes of swelling and pain as well as assess damage to the tendon.

Treatment Tendon Pain and Tendinitis

Although Achilles tendinitis tends to respond well to self-care, when the symptoms appear to be more severe, your physician may recommend other treatment options such as:

  • Medications to relieve the pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy to promote healing and strengthen the Achilles tendon
  • Surgery if the other treatments do not work or if the tendon has torn

Next Step

At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our team of expert doctors and nurses are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.