The Achilles tendon connects the muscles in the back of the lower leg to the heel bone, and when this tendon becomes inflamed or irritated, you’re suffering from Achilles tendinitis. The Achilles tendon is used when walking, running, jumping or pushing up onto your toes. An injury often results from sports that place stress on the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. Achilles tendinitis can progress to a degenerative condition called Achilles tendinosis, where the tendon will become weaker and more fibrous, losing its organized structure. Continued stress to the tendon will cause it to tear or rupture and may require surgery to repair the damage.
If the pain becomes sudden with swelling around the heel, and you are unable to bend the foot downward or walk normally, you may have ruptured the Achilles tendon. If the tendon is ruptured completely, you won’t be able to raise your toes on the injured leg, and you should see a podiatric physician immediately.
To reduce your risk of Achilles tendinitis you can increase your level of activity gradually, choose your shoes carefully, stretch daily and strengthen your calf muscles. See a doctor if you have persistent pain at the back of your heel that doesn’t improve within two weeks. If you believe you’ve ruptured your Achilles tendon, see a podiatric physician immediately.