What Is an Achilles Tendon?

Grapevine Achilles Tendon SpecialistsYour Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body and connects your calf to your heel. The top of the Achilles tendon is an extension of the two primary muscles of your calf.

The Achilles tendon allows you to walk, run, jump, climb stairs, and stand on tiptoe. Because the Achilles tendon absorbs a tremendous amount of stress during these activities, it is prone to injuries, such as tendonitis and rupture.

What Is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon that usually affects men, women, and teens who are active in sports. Men in their 30s and older (i.e., “weekend warriors”) are most commonly afflicted. Aging increases risk because the tendons become weaker and less elastic.

Achilles tendonitis can be extremely painful and impair all activities. Your podiatrist at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists diagnoses Achilles tendonitis based on symptoms, your history, and by palpating the tendon.

Treatment for Achilles tendonitis is conservative and consists of:

  • Heel lifts
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  
  • Icing
  • Stretching
  • Rest

If you have a severe case of Achilles tendonitis, or if your injuries are chronic, your podiatrist may refer you to a physical therapist to strengthen your tendon.

What Is Achilles Tendon Rupture?

Achilles tendon rupture is an actual tear of your Achilles tendon. Your tendon may tear partially or completely. The pain of a ruptured Achilles tendon is sudden, severe, and may be preceded by a popping sound.  

You probably won’t be able to walk, bend your foot, or stand on your toes without excruciating pain. Your podiatrist at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists diagnoses a ruptured Achilles tendon by symptoms, physical examination, and with an MRI to confirm the tear and determine its extent.

Most Achilles tendon ruptures require surgery. Your podiatrist also refers you to a physical therapist to build strength in the tendon and avoid future injury.

What Are Xanthomas of the Achilles Tendon?

Xanthomas are fatty lumps on the Achilles tendons caused by high blood cholesterol levels. Xanthomas on the Achilles tendons are hereditary and rare, but they also correlate with heart attacks and premature death. Your podiatrist diagnoses xanthomas by palpating the nodules and testing your cholesterol. Treatment consists of lowering cholesterol through diet and medication.

If you have pain or lumps around your Achilles tendon, contact our expert podiatrists.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your Achilles tendon, contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists today to book an appointment.