Achilles Tendon Pain

Did you know that walking is the best exercise for your feet?

achilles tendon diagram

Achilles Tendon Pain

What is Achilles tendon pain?

The Achilles tendon originates from the calf muscle and attaches to the back of the heel bone. It has two very important functions:

To help absorb the impact when your foot makes contact with the ground

To help you to push off while walking, running and jumping

Our Achilles tendons work hard whenever we’re on our feet, so it’s no surprise that they’re prone to injury. Achilles tendon pain usually develops due to a process called tendinopathy. The pain tends to develop in the middle or at the bottom of the Achilles tendon.

You may experience these symptoms:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Stiffness

  • Tight calf muscles

These symptoms tend to develop all of a sudden and gradually get worse over time. It should also be noted that there are several other structures around the Achilles tendon that can cause pain at the back of the heel. As the involvement of these structures often alters the treatment plan, it’s a good idea to consult one of our experienced podiatrists to determine where your pain is originating from before starting treatment.

What causes Achilles tendon pain?

Pain in your Achilles tendon is usually caused by doing too much of a certain activity. So, it’s especially common among people that are active at work or exercise regularly. It can also result from:

  • Increasing training load too quickly, particularly after a period of rest

  • Playing sports that involve lots of running and jumping (e.g. football and netball)

  • Tight and weak calf muscles

  • Inefficient foot function

  • Wearing inappropriate footwear

  • Poor lumbo-pelvic (core) stability

  • Inefficient walking or running technique

  • Medical conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol

achilles tendon pain

Treatment for Achilles tendon pain

Our podiatrists will always focus on reducing the pain you’re experiencing first. While Achilles tendon pain will usually settle down after resting, it tends to come back with a vengeance when you start moving around again. The good news is that you probably won’t need to stop working or exercising. Sorry, you can’t take a couple of weeks off work to sit on the couch and watch Netflix! However, as modifying your activity level is vital, your podiatrist will help you find a happy medium between too much and not enough activity.

Other treatments our podiatrists may recommend include:

  • Applying ice for pain relief

  • Taking short-term pain relief medication

  • Massage

  • Dry needling

  • Strengthening exercises

  • Wearing more appropriate footwear

  • Using heel raisers or orthotics to take pressure off the Achilles tendon

  • Shockwave therapy