The Achilles tendon may be the Rodney Dangerfield of the body—it gets no respect. This is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. It is the only tendon where the fibers rotate like a cable, creating a dramatic increase in strength. It takes a lot of repetitive force to cause problems in this area. Even though Achilles tendinitis typically is a result of a long term overuse, it may appear with a sudden onset of symptoms like a slow leak in a tire that eventually goes flat.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Symptoms from Achilles tendinitis can appear from just above the heel to below the heart-shaped calf muscle. You will experience tenderness when you first start walking after sitting for a while, especially after sleeping. Look for an area of tenderness when you run your fingers down both sides of the tendon and search for an area of tenderness the width of your index finger. If there is no change in size the Achilles tendon, that is a good sign. If you notice isolated swelling, a distinct deficit or small depression, you have a significant problems. If that defect is large, you may have a critical problem with a tendon tear.
To help a tendon glide freely, there is a sheath around the tendon that provides lubrication. If you find a long, extended area of tenderness when you run your finger down the tendon, this sheath may also be inflamed. It may even feel spongy or “crunchy” with movement or pressure. This is a sign of chronic irritation and is a significant problem.