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Mark A. Wolgin, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Specialist (Fellowship Trained) in Spinal and Foot/Ankle Surgery, Albany, GA, Office Phone 229-883-4707

About Me
Spine Anatomy
Spine Disorders
Non Surgical Treatments
Surgical Treatments
Pain Management
Achilles Tendonitis
Anatomy: Foot/Ankle
Ankle Foot Orthosis
Ankle Instability
Ankle Arthritis
Hallux Rigidus
Lisfranc Fracture
Morton's Neuroma
Osteochondritis Dissecans
Plantar Fasciitis
Stress Fracture
Triple Arthrodesis
V-Y Lengthening
General Orthopaedics
Weight Loss
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Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon goes from the calf muscle down to the back of the heel, and helps with moving the ankle in a downward direction, as would occur with standing on your toes.
The Achilles tendon, seen in this diagram, attaches to the back of the heel bone (calcaneus) about halfway between the top and bottom of the back of the heel bone.
There is an area between the calcaneus and the tendon, just before the tendon attaches to the bone, where some rubbing can occur.  This rubbing can cause partial tearing of the tendon, and inflammation of the bursa, which is a lubricating sac, between the tendon and the bone.
In the xray shown for this patient, due to chronic inflammation at the region where the Achilles attaches to the bone, the patient has developed bone spurs. 
Another bone spur has developed on the sole of the foot where the plantar fascia attaches (for more info on plantar fasciitis, click here.)
 In the MRI of this patient, you can see the Achilles tendon, which higher up in the leg, above the heel bone, looks black. 
The region just near where the tendon attaches, where the partial tearing occurs, looks more white on the MRI since there is more water content in the tissues due to the inflammation occurring.  Also, the inflammation of the bursa can be seen.
This particular patient happened to have a later misstep and pulled off the attachment of the Achilles, along with the bone spur, and required surgical treatment for reattachment of the tendon.
Sometimes, as part of the repair procedure, the tendon is too tight and needs to be lengthened with a procedure called a V-Y lengthening.
Most cases, however, can improve significantly with non-operative care, which includes:
Stretching program
Anti inflammatory medicines (Ibuprofen/Advil, Naprosyn/Aleve, Relafen, Lodine, Voltaren, Celebrex, Mobic, etc.)
Walker boot
...but it takes between 6 weeks and 6 months to resolve completely. 
When operative treatment is chosen, the decision is made by the patient, as they will at some point feel that no progress is being made, and they might decide to undergo surgical treatment.