Achilles Tendinopathy

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Achilles tendinopathy can make life painful. The area just above your heel bone, especially in the morning, might feel tender and stiff. You might feel pain along the tendon and at the back of the ankle during or after you run.

Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment at UVA Health

At UVA Health, you'll find orthopedic experts who will design a treatment plan to relieve your heel pain from Achilles tendinopathy. They'll diagnose your condition using imaging scans.

You may need:

Foot and Ankle Support

You may be advised to wear a shoe insert. This places your foot in the correct position for walking and running.

Taping your ankle during activity may also help. Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist before using this option. They can show you the proper way to wrap your foot.

Physical Therapy

More severe or recurring injuries may need physical therapy. Therapy may include:

  • Stretching
  • Massage
  • Ultrasound
  • Strengthening exercises, focused on the calf muscles


To help manage pain your doctor may recommend:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Topical pain relievers you apply to the skin
  • Prescription pain relievers

To Take a Break

Avoid any activity, like going uphill or exercising on irregular surfaces, that causes pain. Switch to activities that don't put stress on the tendon. Once your pain has gone, you can gradually increase your activity levels.

Would TENEX Benefit You?

Talk to your doctor about whether TENEX is right for you. Learn more about this minimally invasive procedure for tendon pain. 

And learn why you'll want to come to UVA Health for all sports and other overuse injuries.

What Causes Achilles Tendon Pain?

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Overusing this tendon can cause structural injury. This can lead to the 2 types of Achilles tendinopathy:

  • Tendonitis — inflammation (swelling) of the tendon
  • Tendinosis — tiny tears in the tendon with no significant inflammation

You can get Achilles tendinopathy by:

  • Increasing your speed or running long distances too quickly
  • Suddenly adding strenuous hills or stair climbing to your exercise routine
  • Doing too much too soon after taking time away from exercising
  • A sudden or violent contraction of the calf muscles, such as during an all-out sprint
  • Running too much
  • Improper footwear
  • Normal wear and tear from age

Decrease Your Chances of Achilles Tendinopathy Coming Back

  • Wear appropriate footwear for your sport.
  • Don't use shoes beyond the recommended duration. This depends on:
    • How frequently you exercise
    • The surface you exercise on
    • The conditions you exercise in
  • Gradually add hill work, stairs, speed and distance to your routine.
  • Stretch and strengthen your calf muscles regularly.

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