What is Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is the official name for a strained calf. You’re basically just stressing the soft tissues below your knee, down the back of your leg. When the tendon that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone become inflamed and injured, you’ll feel pain.
Usually Achilles tendonitis is most common in runners who suddenly switch their routine and increase their intensity. But it can also happen if you play basketball, tennis, or another sport that requires you to change the intensity of your runs — especially if you don’t warm up and cool down properly.
How do I know if I have Achilles tendonitis?
In general, you’ll have severe pain running down the back of your leg under your knee. But there are other warning signs that it’s time to see a specialist, like Dr. Hurst. For instance, you may have:
- Stiffness in the back of your lower leg
- Lower-leg pain that gets worse with activity
- Severe lower-leg pain the day after an intense workout
- Thickening or swelling in your lower leg
- Bone spurs
While Achilles tendonitis causes severe pain and swelling on its own, be aware of any popping sounds in your heel or in the back of your calf when the injury occurs. This sound is a sign that you may have torn your tendon, which may need immediate medical attention.
Will I need surgery for achilles tendonitis?
Possibly, although Dr. Hurst will likely try physical therapy and all other nonsurgical treatments first. If surgery is the only option, Dr. Hurst will inform you about the severity of your injury and what to expect from surgery. For some men and women who still have trouble with foot flexing after extensive physical therapy, Dr. Hurst might need to extend your calf muscle.
If your Achilles tendon is only slightly damaged, he might be able to repair it. But if it’s severely injured, he’ll likely have to perform a tendon transfer. With this type of surgery, Dr. Hurst relocates the tendon that helps your big toe move up and down.
He’ll place the new tendon into your heel bone to strengthen your damaged tendon. Because a tendon transfer can be invasive and require extensive healing time, you might not be able to return to competitive sports.