The Achilles tendon starts at the bottom of the heel and runs up the back of the leg to the calf muscle. It is the largest tendon in the body and has a small blood supply, making Achilles tendon inflammation a common problem which can take a long time to heal. Overuse of the Achilles tendon during sports or exercise is what usually causes inflammation, which is sometimes called tendinitis. Treatments for this problem may include rest, icing the area, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. If these treatments are not effective, orthotics, physical therapy or surgery could be necessary.
Acute Achilles tendinitis may start with heel pain that gets worse over a few days. The pain may be worse at the beginning of a workout but fade as it progresses. The problem can start as an acute injury but might develop into a chronic problem if not properly treated. An acute injury will usually improve with rest. If the condition becomes chronic, the pain can last throughout the workout, may be more intense, and may not respond as well to treatment.
Achilles tendon inflammation is often caused by overuse of the area. Running is one activity that can sometimes put a great deal of pressure on the tendon. Increasing running distance or speed, or running up more hills might cause Achilles tendinitis, especially if the calf muscles are weak or tight. People who experience Achilles tendon inflammation from overuse may need to take a break from exercising. Applying ice can also help to reduce inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium also may help to relieve Achilles tendinitis pain and can either be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over-the-counter. Wearing a heel pad while the tendon is healing and choosing the proper shoes for the type of exercise may also help to heal and prevent future problems. Treating Achilles tendinitis right away with these methods can help to stop it from becoming a chronic condition.
If Achilles tendon pain worsens or does not respond to rest, ice or pain relievers, a doctor may be able to suggest additional treatments. Wearing orthotics and taping the area may help. Ultrasound treatments, physical therapy, or sports massage might also be prescribed in some cases. Steroid injections may be given for extreme cases, but there can sometimes be a risk of rupturing the tendon. If other more conservative treatments don't work, surgery may be needed to correct Achilles tendon inflammation.