Description and Possible Medical Problems

As you grow older, you’ve probably noticed the occasional slight aches and pains that seem to surface during the first few minutes of exercise and then fade away as your joints and muscles begin to move smoothly. Those same aches and pains may surface again the next morning as you get out of bed, but, once you start moving, they should go away.

However, if you have a pain in the back of your ankle at the heel that appears after you start to move or walk, it’s probably not caused by the aches and pains of aging. Instead, you probably have Achilles tendinitis, an inflammation of the largest tendon in your body.

Achilles tendinitis is most common among people who are active; hard and regular exercise can cause small tears to form in the tendon, and these can be painful.


If you think you have Achilles tendinitis, you’ll need to stop exercising for at least a couple of weeks to allow the tendon to heal. Applying an ice pack to your heel can also ease the pain and inflammation; taking aspirin can also help. Your doctor will do an X ray of your foot and ask about your recent exercise habits. She may decide to inject a corticosteroid preparation such as prednisone directly into the area to reduce the pain and inflammation.

After the tendon has healed and you return to exercise, you’ll need to adjust your habits to make sure the tendinitis doesn’t return. Cutting down on the amount of exercise you get or switching from running to walking or swimming will also reduce your chances of reinjuring the tendon. Changing the kind of running shoes you wear or inserting an orthotic appliance into your shoe to elevate your heel and take some of the stress off your tendon is worth trying, too.


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