Just as with the mighty Greek warrior Achilles, whose only weak spot was his Achilles tendon (for whom it is named), the Achilles tendon continues to cause pain in people today.
The Achilles tendon begins in the muscles in the back of the calf and attaches to the back of the heel bone. Although ruptures , or tears, of the tendon are commonly treated injuries, most Achilles tendon problems are due to abnormal tightness.
Abnormal tightness of the Achilles tendon itself is referred to as “equinus”, from the Latin “equus”, meaning “horse”. The Achilles tendon pulls the foot down, or “plantarflexes” it. When tested, if the ankle cannot move up at least ten degrees from the neutral position, the patient is considered to have an equinus condition. Symptoms associated with equinus include Achilles tendinitis, pain in the back and/or bottom of heel (retrocalcaneal bursitis and plantar fasciitis), calf muscle pain, bunions, pain and/or calluses of the forefoot, arch pain, knee pain, back pain and toe-walking.
Fortunately, equinus and its symptoms are usually effectively treated with conservative measures including stretching, bracing, orthotics, physical therapy modalities, and anti-inflammatory medications. Although rarely necessary, surgical lengthening of the Achilles tendon itself or of the tight calf muscle can be performed.
Early evaluation and treatment of equinus deformity is recommended before compensatory problems develop. If you have any of the symptoms of equinus, please call our offices for an appointment.