An Achilles tendon injury is an injury that happens to the largest tendon in the human body and is usually caused by an injury, overuse or a mechanical abnormality in the foot or ankle. The Achilles tendon is the fibrous tissue that connects the two large muscles in the back of your calf to your heel bone. These muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) create the power needed to push off with your foot or rise up on your toes.
The name of the tendon comes from the legendary Greek god Achilles, a fearless warrior who was killed by an arrow that struck his heel, the only vulnerable point in his body. Hence, "Achilles' heel" became synonymous with a person's weakness.
Although your Achilles tendon can withstand forces of 1,000 pounds or more, it is the most frequently injured tendon by professional athletes and weekend athletes alike, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). An Achilles tendon injury can range from a mild case of Achilles tendonitis (inflammation and swelling) to a more serious rupture or tear in the tendon that requires Achilles tendon repair surgery. The AAOS reports that an acute Achilles tendon rupture affects an estimated 5.5 to 9.9 of every 100,000 people in North America each year.
Types of Achilles Tendonitis
Depending on which part of your Achilles tendon is inflamed, you could be experiencing:
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms
Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis can come on gradually or suddenly. According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, you may feel one or more of these common symptoms:
Achilles Tendonitis Causes
Achilles tendonitis results from repetitive stress to your Achilles tendon, especially when you push your body to do too much, too soon. Other factors can enter into the picture and make it more likely for you to develop Achilles tendonitis, including:
Achilles Tendon Injury Treatment
Treatment options for Achilles tendon injuries range from nonsurgical approaches like rest, exercise, anti-inflammatory medications and a leg cast to Achilles repair surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The Rehabilitation Network of the North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to providing you and your family with result-oriented, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones find relief from pain and get moving again after an accident, illness, injury or surgery. We’re your partner in a safe, healthy, more rapid recovery.