The Achilles tendon is a muscle that connects the back of your leg to your heel. Achilles tendinitis, also known as Achilles tendinopathy, is a very common injury in which inflammation of the tendon occurs. There are two types of tendinitis determined by where on the tendon the injury occurred. The two variations are Insertional Achilles Tendinitis which affects the lower part of the tendon, and Non-insertional Achilles Tendinitis which affects the middle part of the tendon.

Achilles tendinitis can affect both active and inactive individuals, but it is especially prevalent in those that are younger and live a more active lifestyle such as runners or athletes in general. Tendinitis can result in difficulty to walk, climb stairs, or participate in everyday recreational activities.

Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms

Symptoms can vary from slight pain to a burning sensation that surrounds the whole joint, but some of the most frequent symptoms of Achilles tendinitis are:

  • Tenderness
  • Pain & Stiffness (usually in the morning)
  • Swelling that increases with activity
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation

If you feel a sudden pop in the back of your heel, this most likely means that you have ruptured your Achilles tendon. This is not the same as Achilles Tendinitis and you should visit your doctor immediately.


The diagnosis of an Achilles injury can be made with a physical exam. During the examination, your doctor will evaluate your posture, flexibility, strength, and movement, and may apply light pressure on the heel to determine the seriousness of the injury. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and ultrasounds are usually not needed to diagnose Achilles tendinitis but may also be used if a conclusion cannot be drawn from the physical evaluation.

While the tendon will not be revealed on X-rays, this can rule out other problems that might cause similar symptoms. An MRI uses radio waves and strong magnets to produce highly detailed images of the Achilles tendon, leading to very accurate identification. Ultrasounds use sound waves to generate real-time visuals of soft tissue, including the tendon, and the blood flows around it.

The symptoms of a meniscus tear may be similar to the symptoms associated with other medical conditions. If you suspect an injury may have occurred, be sure to discuss with a trusted health care specialist.

Causes & Risk Factors

There are quite a few factors that can increase the risk of Achilles tendinitis

  • Sex. Men are more likely to develop Achilles tendinitis.
  • Age. It is also more likely to occur as you get older.
  • Foot shape. Some people have naturally flat arches in their feet which can put stress on the tendon. Tight calf muscles and obesity can contribute to increases in tendon strain.
  • Shoe choice. Wearing worn out shoes limits the support your tendon has. It can predispose you to an Achilles injury.
  • Medical conditions. Higher blood pressure or people who have psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing Achilles tendinitis.
  • Medication. Some antibiotics, such as fluoroquinolones, have been associated with higher rates of Achilles tendinitis.

Achilles Tendinitis Prevention

Achilles tendinitis is very common, in fact 80% of these injuries occur during recreational sports. While there may not be a way to completely prevent Achilles injuries, there may be a few ways to reduce the likelihood of suffering one. A few methods that could potentially lower the risk of a tendon injury include:

  • Stretching daily
  • Warming up with light activities like walking or jogging
  • Increasing physical activity gradually
  • Wearing proper shoes with support and stability

Integrating these precautions into your daily activities make sure you keep yourself as safe as possible from Achilles injuries.

Recovery & Treatment Options for Achilles Tendinitis

Every case of Achilles tendinitis varies in scope and level of seriousness, which in turn changes the level of treatment and recovery time. Recovery can take longer if you continue to put stress on the tendon, and the seriousness could increase if not treated properly. While there are some cases that require surgical reparation, this is often used as a last resort when the below recovery tactics are not sufficient.

Achilles tendinitis can usually be remedied by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, applying ice, and properly resting. The most important thing to do when treating this injury is rest and give yourself time to heal. However, you can also take restorative and preventative measures by reaching out to a licensed physical therapist, like the staff we have at our practice in Hicksville.

Physical therapy is the recommended method for post-injury recovery. Ensuring that the tendon is strengthened and fully heals is one of the many benefits of rehabilitation. Reducing pain in the damaged area, eliminating swelling, and restoring flexibility and mobility are all possible through physical therapy. However, during the time of healing the patient needs to make sure that they are only participating in activities that do not risk further injuring the tendon.

Because every case is different, every case needs a different approach to recovery. At our Long Island-based practice we provide custom supervised exercise programs that are tailored specifically to your needs to aid in your recovery process.

There are plenty of exercises that will help strengthen the area around the tendon. In order to properly identify which stretches to use and perform them correctly, we recommend reaching out to a member of our team in Hicksville.

Contact a Specialist

While an Achilles injury is common, it can still be very difficult to live with. Our team at Hicksville Physical Therapy in Nassau County is trained and ready to help you begin your recovery through hands-on care, patient education and prescribed movement. Our goal is to help you get back to your normal life as quickly and painlessly as possible.

If you are experiencing any of these complications, contact a physical therapist directly for an evaluation so you can return to your everyday life and activities as quickly as possible.

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Hicksville Physical Therapy