7 Symptoms of Achilles Injury

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It allows you to run, jump and walk. It connects the heel bone to the calf muscle. This tendon is tough and strong, but it’s not immune to injury. The most common cause of injury to this structure is overexertion while playing recreational sports, however, it can happen to anyone.

Injury to the Achilles tendon takes two major forms: tendonitis and rupture. Tendonitis is an inflammation of the Achilles. You may notice pain in your heel area and also down the back of your leg. Tendonitis of the Achilles comes in two forms:

In this form, small tears occur in the middle area of the Achilles. The tendon breaks down, causing the symptoms of pain and swelling. This is most often seen in younger, very active adults.

This is a tear in the tendon where it meets the heel bone. It can cause heel pain and swelling and can occur even in people who are sedentary.

Rupture is a tearing of the Achilles tendon. It can be partial or total. A total rupture sign is a popping sound coming from the heel area, accompanied by sharp pain. This requires immediate medical attention. A complete rupture may require surgery to heal properly. Tendonitis can typically be treated by casting, ice application, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.

Sometimes Achilles tendon injuries happen from simple overuse. Other causes include falling from a high place, stepping in a hole and overexertion in sports, especially those that require jumping.

Achilles tendon rupture occurs most often in younger men. Obesity may increase your risk. Steroid injections can sometimes weaken the tendon. Some antibiotics, such as Cipro, may also cause rupture of this tendon in some cases.

This next section will discuss specific symptoms of Achilles injury.

1. Stiffness

One of the hallmark signs of Achilles tendon injury is stiffness. When this tendon is injured, you will not have the normal flexibility of the joint. You will notice that the joint feels stiff and not fluid, as it should. This is because the Achilles is necessary for normal movement and feel of the foot. The stiff discomfort will likely be worse in the morning or after long period of sitting. This is because the tendon has tightened up during this time. The tendon injury causes it to contract abnormally, which you feel as a painful stiffness. This stiffness may also be felt at the back of the calf.

The degree of stiffness often depends upon the degree of tendon injury. Your doctor may instruct you to gently stretch the area to relieve some of the stiffness. Special exercises may also be recommended to help strengthen the area and relieve pain and stiffness. Your doctor may also recommend orthotics, or special foot gear and devices. Sometimes complete rest is necessary. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may also help with stiffness and pain. In other cases, physical therapy can help with the stiffness you feel. Your doctor may also recommend more than one type of therapy in order to give you the best relief.