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Achilles Tendonitis

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By Matt Vera BSN, R.N.


  • Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation and/or degeneration of the Achilles tendon.
  • The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone.
  • The Achilles tendon can become irritated for several reasons including:
    • Increasing your speed or running long distances too quickly
    • Suddenly adding strenuous hills or stair climbing to your exercise routine
    • Doing too much too soon after taking time away from exercising
    • A sudden or violent contraction of the calf muscles, such as during an all-out sprint
    • Running too much—overuse
    • Lack of flexibility of the calf muscles

Risk Factors

  • Improper or badly worn footwear
  • Improper warm-up for your activity
  • Inflexibility of the calf muscles
  • Improper cool-down
  • An improper training program


  • Tenderness usually located one to two inches above the point where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone (noticeable in the morning upon rising)
  • Stiffness that gradually eases as the tendon is warmed-up
  • Pain after activity that gradually worsens
  • Radiating or localized pain along the tendon during and/or after running
  • Swelling in the area of the Achilles


  • X-rays to see if there is calcium in the tendon
  • MRI Scan to view areas of interior damage to the tendon



  • Take a break from the activity that caused the tendonitis. Switch to an activity, such as swimming, that doesn’t put stress on the tendon.


  • You may be advised to wear a shoe insert that will place your foot in the correct position for walking and running.

Physical Therapy

  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Ultrasound
  • Strengthening exercises


  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease the pain and decrease inflammation. This is not curative and must be combined with other treatment.


  • Take the time to warm-up and cool-down properly.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for your sport.
  • Do not use shoes beyond the recommended duration. This will depend on:
    • o How frequently you exercise
    • o The surface on which you exercise
    • o The conditions in which you exercise
  • Gradually add hill work, stairs, speed, and distance to your exercise routine.
  • Stretch and strengthen the calf muscles regularly.
Matt Vera, a registered nurse since 2009, leverages his experiences as a former student struggling with complex nursing topics to help aspiring nurses as a full-time writer and editor for Nurseslabs, simplifying the learning process, breaking down complicated subjects, and finding innovative ways to assist students in reaching their full potential as future healthcare providers.

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