What is achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy happens when you injure your Achilles tendon and it doesn't heal as it should. Your Achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to your heel. This problem causes pain and makes it hard to move your foot and ankle. Achilles tendinopathy is also often called Achilles tendinitis.

Tendinopathy is not the same as a large Achilles tear or rupture. But it does weaken your tendon and make it more likely to get a large tear.

What happens when you have Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy starts when the tendon is injured and then doesn't heal as it should. At first, you may not have any obvious symptoms. Or you may have mild to severe pain when you move. Over time, the leg may weaken and the tendon pain may become constant. Abnormal growths (nodules) may form in the tendon. And the tendon may thicken.

Without rest and treatment of Achilles tendinopathy, you may have long-lasting (chronic) pain.

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?

Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy may include:

  • Pain in the back of the heel, in the Achilles tendon area. Pain may be mild or severe. It may come on slowly or may only occur when you walk or run. Swelling may occur.
  • Tenderness in the Achilles tendon area. You may notice it more in the morning.
  • Stiffness that goes away as the tendon warms up with use.
  • Decreased strength and movement, or a feeling of sluggishness in the leg.

How is Achilles tendinopathy treated?

Treatment for mild Achilles tendon problems like Achilles tendinopathy includes rest, over-the-counter pain medicine, and stretching exercises. You may need to wear well-cushioned shoes and change the way you play sports. Orthotic shoe devices can help reduce stress on the tendon. You may get physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be needed.

How can you care for yourself when you have Achilles tendinopathy?

You can do several things to help heal your Achilles tendon. Rest the tendon and avoid activities that strain it. Reduce the pain by icing the tendon and using over-the-counter pain relievers. Do gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, such as calf stretches. Wear supportive shoes or orthotics. Try a night brace.

What increases your risk for Achilles tendinopathy?

Things that increase your risk for Achilles tendinopathy include:

Sports and physical activity.

Overuse and repeated movements can cause injury and weaken the Achilles tendon. Playing sports increases the risk of an injury. Activities at work (such as in construction) and at home (such as gardening) may also increase your risk.

Sports training errors.

These errors include:

  • Not warming up before running or other activities.
  • Suddenly changing your training program.
  • Increasing your distance too quickly.
  • Running uphill more often than you are used to.
  • Changing your ground surfaces too quickly.
  • Having decreased flexibility.

Most cases of Achilles tendinopathy occur in people older than 30.


People who are very heavy have a greater risk.

Being male.

Men are more likely than women to have an Achilles tendon injury.


Wearing shoes that are worn out, don't support your feet, or don't cushion your heel can increase your risk.

What is Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy happens when the Achilles tendon is injured and doesn't heal as it should. This condition is also often called Achilles tendinitis.

What causes Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy is most often caused by:

Overuse or repeated movements.

This can happen during sports, work, or other activities. In sports, a change in how long, intensely, or often you exercise can cause microtears in the tendon. These tears are unable to heal quickly and will cause pain at some time. A change in your environment, such as going from a flat surface to a hill or from a dirt road to a paved road, can also cause these tears.

Repeated push-offs or a stop-and-go motion.

These injuries are common in such activities as running, basketball, tennis, and ballet dancing.

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