Tendinitis is the term used when a tendon is inflamed. The term acute tendinitis refers to inflammation that comes on suddenly or within a few days, usually due to a tendon strain or overloading the tendon during exercise.
In the case of acute Achilles tendonitis, most individuals can identify an injury or specific event that caused a strain or tearing of the Achilles tendon. When the fibers of a tendon are torn, they become inflamed and swollen causing pain and tenderness in the area which can also result in difficulty flexing the footduring regular movements, such as walking and jumping.
Most commonly, this condition is seen in the “weekend warrior” athlete who sits at a desk all week and then plays softball or tennis on the weekend. The resultant muscle strain (mild tears) creates inflammation and pain and can lead to tendinitis. This condition could also be created if the tendon is strained from a sudden trauma such as a fall or misstep.
Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms
If you are suffering from acute Achilles tendinitis you will most likely be experiencing:
- Pain that occurs abruptly following a tendon strain, usually part way up the Achilles tendon.
- Sharp pain at the beginning of activity that decreases in intensity as exercise progresses.
- Pain that returns after exercise or after long periods of inactivity.
- Pain may subside when the Achilles tendon is allowed to rest.
- Pain becomes most significant when pushing off or jumping.
- Stiffness in your Achilles tendon when you wake up in the morning.
- Tender and warm to the touch.
- The Achilles tendon is irritated by heat but feels good when treated with cold compression and rest.
If you feel a sharp pain, as though you’ve been hit in the back of the ankle, and hear a “pop” sound, your Achilles tendon has likely ruptured. A ruptured (completely torn) Achilles tendon can occur when the Achilles tendon is overstressed to the point of tearing. It will be very difficult for you to walk or move your ankle if this is the case.
Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Acute Achilles tendonitis may be caused by:
- Improper stretching before and after running and jumping exercises.
- Changes in foot wear (i.e. high heels, poor running shoes).
- An inflexible Achilles tendon (i.e. tendon with scar tissue from previous injury or wear and tear).
- An increase in training, training on uneven terrain or a change in terrain (i.e. hills) .
- Weak or inflexible calf muscles.