What is tendinitis?

Tendinitis (sometimes spelled tendonitis) is a condition that involves inflammation and irritation of the tendons, the strong bands of connective tissue that connect muscles to bones. Tendinitis can occur when the tendon itself becomes injured or when the tendon becomes inflamed and rubs against the protective sheath that surrounds it. Achilles Tendinitis is the most common type of tendinitis to affect the feet and ankles, involving the long tendon that runs from the calf muscle to the heel.

What causes Achilles tendinitis?

Two of the most common causes of Achilles tendinitis are the lack of flexibility and arch problems including overpronation which causes the foot to turn or roll outward when walking, often as a result of having flat feet. Changes in footwear or wearing shoes that don’t fit properly can also contribute to Achilles tendinitis, as can changes in physical activity. The condition is especially common among long-distance runners and other athletes who “ramp up” their exercise routines or who do not perform warm-up exercises prior to physical activity. It also occurs in older people whose tendons tend to be stiffer and less flexible, making them more prone to irritation and inflammation.

What symptoms does Achilles tendinitis cause?

The most common symptom associated with Achilles tendinitis is a pain in the heel area and radiating from the heel. The painful symptoms usually become worse when running or performing other exercises that require pushing off with the foot or jumping.

How is tendinitis treated?

Tendinitis can often be treated conservatively with ice, pain medications and stretching exercises to help strengthen the tendon and promote flexibility. Custom orthotics may also help by providing additional support for the arch of the foot and by addressing overpronation. In very few cases when these approaches do not work, surgery may be recommended to reposition the tendon.