The Achilles tendon is a large tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The calf consists of two muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) which are found in the back of the lower leg and together form into the Achilles tendon. The gastrocnemis and soleus muscles both work together to produce movement at the ankle. During these movements, the Achilles tendon transmits force from the calf muscle to the heel bone. Unfortunately repetitive overuse of the Achilles tendon causes microscopic tearing and inflammation within the tendon. This inflammation and tearing of the tendon is called Achilles tendinitis/ tear. This injury is commonly found in sporting activities that involve jumping, lunging or sprinting, which can cause partial or complete tearing depending on the rapid forced contraction of the Achilles tendon.
The retrocalcaneal bursa lies between the Achilles tendon and the back of the heel bone. Due to its location, it may develop into bursitis due to the excessive friction on the bursa which is commonly caused by any injury to the Achilles tendon or wearing shoes that are tight fitted around the back of the heel. All of the above conditions can be a result of poor lower limb biomechanics, which causes increase strain on the back of the lower leg and can gradually cause degeneration/thickening of the Achilles tendon.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Localised pain and swelling over Achilles tendon or back of the heel.
- Complete or Partial Achilles tears cause immediate agonising pain at the back of the heel which is commonly described as a sensation of being hit or kicked in the back of the leg. May produce audible snapping sound during incident.
- Depending on the severity of the Achilles tear, complete loss of strength in the calf and unable to walk due to pain and weakness.