The Achilles tendon is located in the back of the leg where the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf come together and attach to the calcaneus (heel bone). The Achilles tendon, which is the strongest tendon in the body, allows people to push off in walking, running, and jumping.
Chronic, long-lasting Achilles tendon disorders range from overuse injuries to tearing or rupture of the tendon. Pain along the back of the ankle or in the heel are often the result of distinct problems along the course of the Achilles tendon or at its point of attachment to the heel of the foot. This type of pain may also be caused by retrocalcaneal bursitis, which is sometimes called Achilles tendon bursitis.
Most people who have injuries and inflammation related to overuse of the tendon undergo nonsurgical treatment, which begins with rest and modification of activities. In acute cases of Achilles tendon injury, especially when inflammation is involved, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be beneficial. In addition, treatment involves ice massages, stretching, strengthening exercises, and correcting alignment problems under the guidance of a physician, athletic trainer, or physical therapist. A small group of patients who do not benefit from these therapies may require surgery.