How Do I Know If I Have Achilles Tendinitis?

Let’s Define Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis occurs when the tendon that connects the back of your leg to your heel becomes swollen and painful near the bottom of the foot. This tendon is called the Achilles tendon. It allows you to push your foot down. Your Achilles tendon is used when walking, running, and jumping.


There are two large muscles in the calf. These create the power needed to push off with the foot or go up on your toes. The large Achilles tendon connects these muscles to the heel.

Heel pain is often due to overuse of the foot.

Tendinitis due to overuse can occur in walkers, runners, or other athletes.

Achilles tendinitis may be more likely to occur due to the following:

  • There is a sudden increase in the amount or intensity of an activity.
  • Your calf muscles are very tight (not stretched out).
  • You run on hard surfaces, such as concrete.
  • You run too often.
  • You jump a lot (such as when playing basketball).
  • You don’t wear shoes that give your feet proper support.
  • Your foot suddenly turns in or out.

Tendinitis from arthritis is more common in middle-aged and older people. A bone spur or growth may form in the back of the heel bone, which may irritate the Achilles tendon and cause pain and swelling. Flat feet will put more tension on the tendon.

Diagnosing Achilles tendonitis

To diagnose Achilles tendonitis, your doctor will ask you a few questions about the pain and swelling in your heel or calf. Your doctor may ask you to stand on the balls of your feet while observing your range of motion and flexibility.

The doctor will also feel around and/or press the area directly to pinpoint where the pain and swelling are most severe.

Imaging tests may help confirm Achilles tendonitis, but you usually don’t need them. If ordered, the tests include:

  • X-rays: provide images of foot bones
  • MRI scans: can detect ruptures and tissue degeneration
  • Ultrasounds: can show tendon movement, related damage, and inflammation

Treating Achilles tendonitis

Many treatments are available for Achilles tendonitis, ranging from home remedies, like rest and anti-inflammatory medication, to more specialized treatments, like steroid injections, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and surgery. Your doctor might suggest the following:

  • reducing your physical activity
  • very gently stretching and later strengthening your calf muscles
  • switching to a different sport
  • icing the area after exercise and/or when in pain
  • elevating your foot to decrease swelling
  • wearing a brace or walking boot to prevent heel movement
  • physical therapy
  • taking anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen for a limited time
  • wearing a shoe with a built-up heel to take tension off your Achilles tendon

Contact our offices Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Virginia Foot & Ankle Associates and schedule an appointment today.
To learn more about Achilles tendonitis, go to Heel Pain Institute of America or Laurel Foot & Ankle Center or Northern Foot & Ankle Associates.

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