If you have felt pain in the back of the leg or heel after running, it’s possible you have an Achilles tendon disorder such as Achilles tendinitis. The pain may become severe after prolonged running, sprinting, stair climbing or another sports activity. Dallas-Fort Worth’s Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Carr Vineyard explains that those with Achilles tendon disorders might also experience tenderness or stiffness, “Often pain appears upon arising in the morning or after periods of rest, and then improves somewhat with mild activity, but later worsens with increased activity.”
What Is the Achilles Tendon?
The Achilles’ tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. It runs down the back of the lower leg connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is also referred to as the “heel cord” because the Achilles’ tendon assists in walking by helping to raise the heel off the ground.
What Are the Most Common Disorders?
Two common disorders that occur in the heel cord are Achilles tendinitis and Achilles tendinosis. Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the Achilles’ tendon. Thankfully, the inflammation tends to be brief. However, if it is not resolved, over time the condition may progress to a degeneration of the tendon known as Achilles tendinosis. In Achilles tendinosis, the tendon loses its structure and develops microscopic tears.
What Causes Achilles Tendon Disorders?
Achilles tendonitis and tendinosis are known as “overuse” disorders because they are usually caused by a sudden increase in a repetitive activity involving the Achilles’ tendon. Too much sudden activity can put more stress on the tendon than it can bear and it is not able to repair injured tissues, causing pain.
Athletes are at high risk of developing Achilles tendon disorders, as are those who put stress on their feet and ankles from work, or those who infrequently participate in athletic activities. Those who have excessive pronation, a flattening of the arch, usually develop Achilles tendinitis or tendinosis due to the great demand placed on the tendon when walking.
The symptoms associated with Achilles tendinitis and tendinosis include:
- Stiffness and tenderness in the morning along the tendon
- Pain, soreness, or aching within the tendon
- Tenderness or intense pain when the tendon is squeezed
If you experience persistent pain in the Achilles’ tendon, call your board-certified doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if the pain or disability is severe, as your Achilles tendon may have torn.
Dr. Carr Vineyard is a Dallas Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, who specializes in the comprehensive management of foot and ankle disorders with The Carrell Clinic. Dr. Carr Vineyard has been named Top10MD for 2016. Only 1 in 3 doctors succeed with this recognition in the United States. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Vineyard call 214-220-2468.