The most common cause of pain in the Achilles tendon is tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon running up the back of the ankle, connecting the heel bone to the calf muscle. This inflammation and irritation can cause pain and swelling, if the condition is not taken care of, it can lead to small tears within the tendon, making it susceptible for possible rupture.
Many different things can cause Achilles tendonitis, with the two most common causes being a lack of flexibility and overpronation of the feet. Achilles tendonitis can also start due to a change in exercise, such as increasing the duration and intensity of a workout, or a change in footwear. Age is also a contributing factor, with the most common sufferers being middle-aged recreation athletes, due to the fact that as we age, our tissues become less flexible and more rigid, making us prone to injury. Middle-aged recreational athletes are the most susceptible since the Achilles tendon is less flexible than before but these athletes often train just as hard, or harder, than youths.
Achilles tendonitis pain is usually described as pain over the back of the heel, where the tendon connects with the heel bone. This is not to be confused with plantar fasciitis, which is where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone on the underside of the foot, at the base of the arch and heel. The Achilles tendon connects on the back of the heel, where the foot and ankle come together. The pain from Achilles tendonitis is experienced after periods of inactivity, such as in the morning of after sitting for a long time. Pain can also be felt when exerting force on the tendon, such as running or jumping, with the most significant pain being caused by the foot pushing off.
If not properly taken care of, Achilles tendonitis can develop into a chronic problem. The inflammation of the Achilles tendon can lead to degenerative changes in the tendon, such as small tears and possible rupture. Time is of the essence with Achilles tendonitis, with stretching, rest and a reduction in exercise until the inflammation is reduced being important to healing.