Everything You Need to Know About Achilles Calcific Tendonitis

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Foot & Ankle Treatment, Non-Surgical Intervention, Orthopedic Surgery

Achilles calcific tendonitis, also known as calcific tendinopathy, is a condition that affects the Achilles tendon, the large tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is characterized by the formation of calcium deposits in the tendon, leading to pain and stiffness. In this article, I will explain the symptoms, the causes, the treatment options, how to avoid developing this condition, and more.

What are the Symptoms of Achilles Calcific Tendonitis?

Symptoms of Achilles calcific tendonitis include:

  1. Pain and stiffness in the back of the heel and calf
  2. Swelling and tenderness in the affected area
  3. Limited mobility and difficulty with walking or running
  4. A grinding sensation or clicking sound when the affected area is moved

What Causes Achilles Calcific Tendonitis?

The exact cause of Achilles calcific tendonitis is not well understood, but it is believed to result from repetitive strain or trauma to the tendon over time. Individuals who engage in high-impact activities, such as running or jumping, are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

What are the Treatment Options for Achilles Calcific Tendonitis?

Treatment options for Achilles calcific tendonitis depend on the severity of the condition. Non-surgical options are usually the first line of treatment and can include:

  1. Rest and activity modification: Avoiding activities that aggravate the condition can help reduce pain and inflammation. Low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming can be substituted to maintain fitness.
  2. Ice therapy: Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  3. Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve mobility and reduce the risk of future injury.
  4. Orthotics: Specialized inserts can be used to support the foot and reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.

If non-surgical treatments are not successful, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options can include:

  1. Removal of the calcified deposit: This involves surgically removing the calcium deposit from the tendon.
  2. Tendon repair: In some cases, the tendon may be partially or completely ruptured and need repair.
  3. Tenotomy: This involves cutting the tendon and allowing it to heal in a lengthened position to reduce tension.

The most conservative treatment option is to manage the condition with rest, ice, and physical therapy to allow the body to heal naturally. In cases of severe pain, orthotics or assistive devices such as a walking boot may be used to immobilize the foot and reduce stress on the tendon. Surgery is typically reserved for cases that do not respond to non-surgical treatment or for individuals with complete tendon rupture.

If you suspect you have Achilles calcific tendonitis or have any other foot and ankle-related issues, consult with a qualified medical professional for an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Developing Achilles Calcific Tendonitis?

There are no medications specifically designed to prevent Achilles calcific tendonitis. However, you can reduce your risk of developing this condition by taking steps to protect your Achilles tendon from injury and overuse.

Some of the ways to reduce your risk of developing Achilles calcific tendonitis include:

  1. Wearing supportive shoes with good arch support to help distribute pressure evenly on the foot and ankle.
  2. Gradually increasing your activity level instead of suddenly increasing your activity levels or taking long breaks from exercising and then jumping right back in with intense activity levels.
  3. Stretching and strengthening exercises, which help maintain the flexibility and strength of your Achilles tendon.
  4. Avoiding activities that can put excessive stress on the Achilles tendon, such as running on hard surfaces, jumping, or sudden stopping and starting of high-impact activities.
  5. Cross-training with low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical to reduce the repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon.

If you experience pain, swelling, or stiffness in the Achilles tendon area, it is essential to rest the affected area, apply ice, and seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or other treatments to help you recover from Achilles tendonitis and prevent the development of Achilles calcific tendonitis.

If I Have Surgery for Achilles Calcific Tendonitis, What is the Recovery Process?

The recovery time after surgery for Achilles calcific tendonitis can vary depending on the extent of the surgery and the individual’s overall health. Generally, after the surgery, the patient will be immobilized with a splint or a cast for a few weeks to allow the tendon to heal. During this time, the patient will not be able to bear weight on the affected foot and may need to use crutches or a wheelchair.

After the initial period of immobilization, the patient will be given a walking boot or a brace and will begin physical therapy. Physical therapy will focus on strengthening exercises to rebuild the muscles of the lower leg, ankle, and foot. It will also include flexibility and range-of-motion exercises to prevent the development of scar tissue and promote healing.

The total recovery time can range from several weeks to several months, depending on the extent of the surgery, the individual’s overall health, and their adherence to the rehabilitation plan.

To help speed up the recovery process, it is important to follow the rehabilitation program provided by your doctor and physical therapist. This may include:

  1. Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids to promote healing.
  2. Resting and elevating the affected foot to reduce swelling.
  3. Wearing a brace or walking boot to protect the tendon while it heals.
  4. Performing the prescribed physical therapy exercises regularly to promote healing and prevent muscle atrophy.
  5. Taking medications as prescribed by your doctor to manage pain and inflammation.
  6. Avoiding activities that can stress the affected tendon and hinder healing.

It is essential to follow your doctor’s and physical therapist’s instructions carefully and attend all scheduled appointments to ensure a full recovery from surgery.