Not every part of the body gets named after a Greek mythological hero, but the Achilles tendon has earned that distinction. The Achilles of myth was large, strong and robust, just like the bands that run along our heel. Sadly, Achilles was taken out quite easily as soon as something managed to injure him—also like our titular tendons.
When something goes wrong with your Achilles tendon, it can leave you quite vulnerable. Seeking help for an injury in prompt time can help prevent chronic pain and impaired mobility.
Although tough, the Achilles tendon is still a soft tissue. As such, it can suffer from problems that come from excessive strain and stress:
If the Achilles tendon endures too much repetitive stress, or takes on a sudden, intense force, the fibers of the band can become overstretched and inflamed. The pain that comes with this condition typically begins as a small ache above the heel after physical activity (particularly running). Engaging in longer periods of activity can result in worse pain in this location. Stiffness and tenderness can also be felt sometimes after a time being still, such as waking up in the morning.
Whereas tendinitis refers to the inflammation of the tendon, “tendinosis” refers to tiny tears developing in the band. Both conditions share the same common cause of overuse, and you will sometimes hear tears referred to as “tendinitis” anyway. In some cases, the term “tendinopathy” is used to describe both inflammation and microtears occurring at the same time.