What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis, simply put, is the inflammation of the achilles tendon. The achilles tendon is the termination of 2 muscles, the gastrocnemius that starts at the back of the femur or the thigh bone, crosses the knee and joins the soleus. The function of this muscle is to plantar flex or point the foot like a ballerina. When it’s tight, it causes extra tension whenever you walk around because the foot has to get neutral to the leg in order to have a normal gate. This puts a lot of tension on the achilles tendon and can cause inflammation of the tendon and the insertion site. Treatment for achilles tendonitis is typically non-surgical. 90% of patients never need surgery for achilles tendonitis. We usually start with physical therapy to stretch out the calf muscles. Heel lifts or wedges to take some of the tension off of the achilles tendon. Some anti-inflammatories both oral, like meloxicam, or topical like a diclofenac cream are usually where we start. And like I said, 90% of patients never need surgery. If we do get to the 6-9 month mark and you’re still symptomatic and we’ve been trying all the non-surgical things, we will lengthen the calf muscle to treat it. This is a 15-minute procedure that is usually pretty easy to recover in. You walk in a boot for 2 weeks. At 2 weeks, we take your sutures out and then you’re in the boot at night only for 4 additional weeks. So your day-to-day life is not that impacted, however, because I lengthened the muscle it does take about 4-6 months to get back to running, jumping, and higher impact activities.


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