Injuries to the Achilles tendon, the tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, can cause considerable heel pain. The most common Achilles injuries are Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis, the former being inflammation of the Achilles tendon and the latter being degeneration of Achilles tendonitis. The inflammation from Achilles Tendonitis is usually short-lived. Over time, if tendonitis is not treated, it can degenerate into a worse condition called tendonosis, marked by tears in the tendon. In rare cases, chronic degeneration with or without pain may result in rupture of the tendon.
The most common risks to the Achilles, similar to the prognosis for stress fractures, are sudden increases of repetitive activity without giving the Achilles tendon the proper time to repair itself from the micro-injuries to the tendon fibers caused by intense activity. Additionally, Achilles injuries may be due to physiological reasons such as flat feet, which put extra pressure on the tendon while walking or running.
Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis will result in pain, aching and tenderness along the tendon’s path, increasing when the sides of the tendon are squeezed but with less pain in the back of the tendon. To diagnose Achilles injuries, your podiatrist will examine the foot, its range of motion, and may conduct further assessment with imagining techniques such as X-rays.