Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles (uh-KIL-eez) tendon, the band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone.
Achilles tendinitis most commonly occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the intensity or duration of their runs. It's also common in middle-aged people who play sports, such as tennis or basketball, only on the weekends.
The pain associated with Achilles tendinitis typically begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity. Episodes of more severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing or sprinting.
You might also experience tenderness or stiffness, especially in the morning, which usually improves with mild activity.
Tendinitis usually responds well to self-care measures. But if your signs and symptoms are severe or persistent, your doctor might suggest other treatment options.
If over-the-counter pain medications — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve) — aren't enough, your doctor might prescribe stronger medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Therapists often prescribe specific stretching and strengthening exercises to promote healing and strengthening of the Achilles tendon and its supporting structures.
A shoe insert or wedge that slightly elevates your heel can relieve strain on the tendon and provide a cushion that lessens the amount of force exerted on your Achilles tendon. A custom foot orthotic can also keep your foot in proper alignment to reduce strain on the Achilles tendon.
If several months of more-conservative treatments don't work or if the tendon has torn, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair your Achilles tendon.