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Achilles Tendon Injuries: Causes and Recovery

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is used when walking, running, and jumping. The Achilles tendon can be injured by overuse or sudden trauma. Overuse injuries usually occur in athletes who do not allow enough time for the tendon to recover between workouts. Sudden trauma can occur from a fall or direct blow to the tendon.

Achilles tendon injuries can range from mild to severe. Mild injuries, such as strains and tendonitis, can be treated at home with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. More severe Achilles tendon tears may require surgery.

Two types of Tendonitis in the Achilles

Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis is the most common type of Achilles tendonitis. This type of tendonitis usually occurs in younger people who are active. It is seen more often in sports that involve running, jumping, and sudden starts and stops such as basketball, football, and tennis.

Noninsertional Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse and repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon rubs against the heel bone or the calf muscle rubs against the Achilles tendon. This repeated rubbing can cause the Achilles tendon to become irritated and inflamed.

Insertional Achilles tendonitis is more common in adults over 40. It can be caused by overuse, but it can also occur if you have flat feet or an unusually high arch. These conditions cause the Achilles tendon to rub against the heel bone more than usual.

Causes of Tendon Injuries

Tendon injuries are usually caused by overuse. This can happen if you suddenly start an activity that your body is not used to, such as starting a new exercise regimen or increasing the intensity of your workout.

You may also be more likely to develop a tendon injury if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, gout, or psoriasis. These conditions can weaken the tendons and make them more susceptible to injury.

Treatment for Achilles Tendon Injuries

Mild Achilles tendon injuries can be treated at home with rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. You can also try using a heating pad or taking a warm bath to help reduce pain and swelling.

If your Achilles tendon injury is more severe, you may need to see a doctor or orthopedic specialist. Treatment for a more severe Achilles tendon injury may include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts
  • Surgery

Achilles tendon injuries can take several weeks or months to heal. You may need to wear a boot or cast for several weeks. Physical therapy can help you regain strength and flexibility in your Achilles tendon.

You can help prevent Achilles tendon injuries by gradually increasing the intensity of your workout and giving yourself enough time to rest between workouts. If you start to feel pain in your Achilles tendon, stop the activity and see a doctor.

Achilles tendon injuries can be debilitating, but with proper treatment, you can expect to make a full recovery.


At Prime Surgical Suites, we provide state-of-the-art, cost-effective musculoskeletal surgical care in a convenient and comfortable outpatient setting for patients of all ages. Located in RiverCrest Medical Park, we are the region's first outpatient center focused exclusively on orthopedics. Our physician-led center will help restore your active lifestyle and well-being with compassion and orthopedic excellence. 

Tags: Foot & Ankle