Achilles Tendinitis and Posterior Heel Pain

Posterior heel pain or pain at the back of the heel can be due to a variety of factors. Probably the most common cause of back heel pain is Achilles tendinitis.

The Achilles tendon is a strong fibrous tissue found at the back of the foot. This is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. It is necessary to provide elastic energy during walking, running, jogging, and hopping. It also aids in balancing while standing or moving around.

As you take each step, the Achilles tendon may be subjected to three to 12 times the body weight. Although tendons are tough, they are not very flexible. This makes them vulnerable to tears, inflammation, or rupture.

When there is inflammation of this tendon, this is called Achilles tendinitis. The irritation and inflammation can cause severe pain which is felt behind the foot. Often, Achilles tendonitis is associated with running or jumping injuries. People active in sports are especially vulnerable to develop plantar fasciitis. This can cause soreness and stiffness which can later progress if left untreated.

The pain in Achilles tendinitis is at the back of the leg and above the heel. There can be mild swelling on the area and tenderness that usually improves with mild activity. If tendon pain is felt, discontinue rigorous activities involving the foot. Instead, gentle stretching can be done.

When pain is felt, an ice pack can be placed over the area. NSAIDs or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be taken. Remember that incorrect footwear can exacerbate the injury.

It is best that you consult a podiatrist if the pain becomes severe or causes disability. Other instances that necessitate a visit to the physician include sudden, severe heel pain, inability to bend the foot downward, not being able to walk on your toes, failure to walk normally, or if you cannot put weight on your foot.


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