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Achilles tendinitis

  • Alternative Names

    Tendinitis of the heel


    Treatment

    The main treatments for Achilles tendinitis do not involve surgery. It is important to remember that it may take at least 2 to 3 months for the pain to go away.

    Try putting ice over the Achilles tendon for 15 to 20 minutes, two to three times per day. Remove the ice if the area gets numb.

    Changes in activity may help manage the symptoms:

    • Decrease or stop any activity that causes you pain.
    • Run or walk on smoother and softer surfaces.
    • Switch to biking, swimming, or other activities that put less stress on the Achilles tendon.

    Your health care provider or physical therapist can show you stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon.

    They may also suggest the following changes in your footwear:

    • A brace or boot to keep the heel and tendon still and allow the swelling to go down
    • Heel lifts placed in the shoe under the heel
    • Shoes that are softer in the areas over and under the heel cushion

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen can help with pain or swelling. Talk with your health care provider.

    If these treatments do not improve symptoms, you may need surgery to remove inflamed tissue and abnormal areas of the tendon. Surgery also can be used to remove the bone spur that is irritating the tendon.

    Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) may be an alternative to surgery for people who have not responded to other treatments. This treatment uses low-dose sound waves.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Lifestyle changes usually help improve symptoms. However, symptoms may return if you do not limit activities that cause pain, or if you do not maintain the strength and flexibility of the tendon.

    Surgery, if needed, has been shown very effective for improving pain.


    Complications

    Achilles tendinitis may make you more likely to have an Achilles rupture. This condition usually causes a sharp pain, like someone hit you in the back of the heel with a stick. Surgical repair is necessary, but difficult because the tendon is not normal.


    Calling your health care provider

    If you have pain in the heel around the Achilles tendon that is worse with activity, contact your health care provider for evaluation and possible treatment for tendinitis.