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Achilles Tendon Problems

The Condition

The Achilles tendon is one of the longest and thickest tendons in the body. It originates in the back of the leg on the powerful gastrocnemius-soleus muscle group (calf muscle) and it inserts on the calcaneus (heel bone). Injuries can include inflammation, degeneration, partial tearing and rupture of the tendon. Injuries to the muscle can include muscle tears and strains, while injuries to the heel bone can include the formation of bone spurs at the tendon attachment point.

The Treatment

Treatment methods vary widely depending upon the type and severity of injury to this important soft tissue structure. It is important to have the injury evaluated by your physician to establish the proper diagnosis and treatment protocol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Contracting the calf muscles shortens the Achilles tendon, which pushes the foot downward. This contraction enables: standing on the toes, walking, running and jumping.
The tendon can become injured if exposed to repetitive motions and high impact activities. Some individuals are more susceptible to injury than others. Several factors that may play a role include underlying medical problems, body weight, activity level, athleticism, and a history of a previous Achilles tendon injury.
Yes. The Achilles tendon can become injured due to repetitive overuse, rapid loading of the tendon, and direct injury. Depending upon the method of injury, the tendon can become inflamed, thickened, partially torn, and even ruptured. A tight Achilles tendon can also lead to the formation of painful bone spurs at the back of the heel.
This is a bone enlargement at the back of the heel bone that causes irritation and inflammation of the fluid filled sac (bursa) that is found between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone above the tendon insertion.
Minor injuries may improve with immobilization, ice application, physical therapy, custom orthotics and oral anti-inflammatory medications. However, more serious injuries may require more substantial care options such as platelet rich plasma prolotherapy or surgery.
Prolotherapy, also referred to as regenerative injection therapy, is a non-operative method of treatment that can be used to heal injured tendons, ligaments and joints. Platelet rich plasma is one form of prolotherapy that allows physicians to harvest the natural healing ability of the human body to repair the injured tissues. Platelet cells contain growth factors that promote and direct tissue healing. These cells are obtained from the patient via a simple blood draw and are concentrated using a centrifuge. The platelets and their growth factors are then injected into the injured tissue to promote healing. This method of treatment is commonly used to improve painful conditions of the Achilles tendon.
Surgery may be required if conservative care fails to improve your condition. Surgical procedures are selected based upon patient injury and need. Partial and total ruptures are among the most severe injuries to the Achilles tendon. They typically require surgical intervention to aid in repair and healing.