The Achilles tendon- a potential weak point of many an athlete and warrior. It can hobble the mighty, and make life difficult for anyone unfortunate enough to injure it. So-named for the weakest part of the great Greek warrior Achilles, who was invulnerable through being dipped into the river Styx at birth, except for the back of the heel where he was held. Many professional athletes have been felled by this tendon, and many more non-athletes develop his condition with negative consequences to their lives.
The Achilles tendon is a large tendon located on the back of the heel. It is incredibly important, and imparts a significant amount of the movement the foot has on the leg. When this tendon is ruptured, walking becomes nearly impossible as the foot simply flops upward when the body puts full weight on it. Even when only strained, the Achilles tendon can limit walking due to significant pain. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, called Achilles tendonitis, is very common and is seen in athletes, older people with chronically damaged tendons, those taking certain medications that weaken tendon fibers, and those with spurs on the back of their heel bones. Symptoms can either be acute, meaning that they suddenly develop due to a specific injury, or chronic, meaning that the injury has developed over a long period of time due to gradual tendon strain. The symptoms run a range from a sharp pain to the back of the heel when the foot bends upward, to a dull ache during any ankle motion.
As Achilles tendonitis worsens, the strain placed on the tendon can weaken it, potentially leading to a rupture at the worst and long term pain in the least. An athlete with Achilles tendonitis can see an immediate and severe decrease in their performance, and non-athletes can see a significant disruption in their daily lives and ability to perform at work. If untreated, Achilles tendonitis can be long-term and very disabling. I treat many cases of Achilles tendonitis, and have seen the havoc this condition place on an individual. If you are developing pain to the back of your heel, stop your activity and rest. If it continues, go see a foot specialist for treatment. Even simple tendonitis cases often worsen if not treated properly from the start.