The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body. It connects the calf muscles and the muscles in the lower leg to the heel bone of the foot. Although strong, tendons are not very flexible, which means overstretching them can cause problems. When the Achilles tendon is over stretched, it can become inflamed, which is what we call Achilles tendonitis, or tear. Inflamed or torn Achilles tendons can cause slight achiness, tenderness, stiffness and in some cases acute pain.
What causes it? There are several possible causes of Achilles tendon pain, but the most common is Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed. It can be caused by sudden increases in an exercise regimen, wearing worn out sneakers, not warming up the calf muscles before exercising, flat feet or over pronation, trauma, a short Achilles tendon, a heel bone deformity and discrepancies in leg lengths. Achilles tendinitis is another cause of Achilles tendon pain. Achilles tendinitis is a result of chronic degeneration of the Achilles tendon due to untreated Achilles tendonitis. More rare, but still a possible cause of Achilles tendon pain is rupture of the Achilles tendon. This can happen when there is excessive and sudden force exerted on the tendon and is extremely painful.
How is it prevented and treated? There are a variety of Treatments available for women with Achilles tendon pain. These include modifying or reducing activity levels, icing the tendon, physical therapy, preventing the tendon from moving around too much by wrapping the ankle or immobilizing it with a splint, medication and orthopedic insoles and orthotics, which can help correct foot misalignment or over pronation. Special Achilles tendinitis shoes for women that come with extra padding around the heel can also help reduce the pressure on the tendon when wearing shoes. For ruptures, surgery is usually required.