The strongest tendon in the body, the Achilles tendon, serves to connect the muscles of the heel with those in the lower leg. When people run, jump or sprint, the Achilles tendons is placed under enormous stress because it has to deal with pressure many times the equivalent of the body weight. This tendon works very hard and is prone to injury that can lead to inflammation and tenderness, which in turn can develop into Achilles tendonitis and foot pain.

How Does Achilles Tendonitis Develop?

Younger people who partake in strenuous physical activity and who fail to do warm-up exercises may place undue pressure on the tendon, and thus develop Achilles tendonitis. Sports that require a lot of jumping, such as basketball for example, are one of the most common causes of the condition with younger people. When physical injuries to the ankle, foot, calf or lower leg lead to inflammation, Achilles tendonitis often develops very quickly. Arthritis can most certainly also contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis, and sometimes bone growths in the tendon can cause severe irritation, leading to inflammation.

How Does One Recognize the Condition?

Most people that suffer from this condition complain of severe pain behind the heel and of foot pain. The pain experienced from Achilles tendonitis is often much worse when getting up in the morning, when sitting for long periods, and when the muscles are not exercised for some time. The affected area may be swollen and sensitive to touch, and especially sharp pain may be experienced when pushing or jumping. Very few people with the condition can stand tippy-toe.

How is Achilles Tendonitis Treated?

There are several treatment options for Achilles tendonitis, ranging from shoe insoles to drastic surgical interventions. Most foot specialists advise patients to rest the affected foot, and this can often be achieved by wearing a cast. In order to relieve the affected heel from the body pressure, special shoe insoles that raise the heel slightly is used with tremendous success. By applying ice to the afflicted area, the blood flow can be improved, and this may also provide temporary reprieve from foot pain. In cases of severe pain and discomfort, foot specialists often prescribe shoe insoles or anti-inflammatory medication that can help speed up the healing process.

Patients are strongly advised to take part in physical therapy where special stretching and building exercises are done in order to strengthen the muscles and to make them much more supple. Most foot specialist will not agree to surgery until they have tried every non-invasive treatment method. Surgery usually involves the removal of the damaged part of the tendon, followed by lengthening the tendon or moving the tendon attachment in the heel.

How Can One Stop Achilles Tendonitis From Developing?

Foot pain and Achilles tendonitis often develop because athletes fail to make sure their muscles and tendons are made supple with stretching exercises before they place pressure upon the body. The more flexible the tendons and muscles are, the less likely the chances for injury, and prevention using shoe insoles is always better than cure.