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Achilles' Heel

The Achilles tendon is the powerhouse for the foot. It provides much of the power in our running, walking, and jumping. It is the largest tendon in the body a long, tough cord of tissue that connects muscle to bone. It is also one of the more often injured tendons in the body.

Common problems can be sprains, strains, tendinitis, tears, and ruptures. Symptoms can range from mild pain, to complete inability to plantar flex (flex downward) in a severe rupture. Sprains are usually a mild stretching of the ligaments (connective tissues). Strains are an injury to the muscle or tendon (the fibrous cord of tissue that attaches muscle to bone). You are also more likely to have injuries like sprains and strains if you have had a history of similar injuries, overweight, or are in poor physical condition.

Sprains and Strains

There are three categories of sprains and strains. Mild, Moderate, Severe

Mild: Ligament or muscle is stretched, but there is no joint loosening

Moderate: Partially tearing the ligaments or muscle. This produces joint instability, swelling, possibly bruising

Severe: Excruciating pain at time of injury due to complete tearing of ligaments or muscle, or separation from the bone. Complete ruptures render the joint nonfunctional and generally require some form of surgery to repair.


Overuse may cause the Achilles to swell, become irritated, painful, and inflamed. This is often seen in runners, but can be seen in anyone who puts a lot of stress on their feet, like basketball players, crossfit, and dancing just to name a few. Without treatment the condition becomes chronic which can lead to other problems with the tendon and the foot.


Achilles tendon tears are when the tendon partially tears, and usually causes severe pain, and inability to walk. Often these will have a large lump just above where the Achilles inserts onto the heel bone. Ruptures are when the tendon completely tears and results in loss of much of the function and power in the foot, and a notable deficit can be seen in the tendon.


Treatment for Achilles tendon problems range from immobilization in a walking boot, non-weight bearing, physical therapy, and surgery to repair the torn or detached tendon. Sometimes depending on the severity of a rupture a donor tendon may be required to repair the damage.

Are you having achilles tendon pain? Give our office a call at 541-779-5227 and any of our staff members would be happy to get you scheduled to see one of our providers.

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