Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis refers to swelling and pain in the large tendon at the back of the ankle. It is a relatively common condition.

Tendonitis is painful swelling of the tendons - the strong cords of tissue that secure the muscles to the bones. Achilles tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon in the heel at the back of the ankle.

Achilles tendonitis is often caused by an injury picked up playing sport, especially those involving sudden movement of the leg and foot, or those that involve repeated use of the tendon - particularly running. This can lead to damage to the Achilles tendon that isn’t able to heal properly - over a period of time this can lead to tendonitis.

Typically, Achilles tendonitis symptoms include stiffness, pain and sometimes swelling at the back of the heel. These symptoms are often worse in the morning.

General symptoms of tendonitis include:

  • pain that worsens when the affected area is moved
  • stiffness, usually worse in the morning
  • weak movement, or an inability to move the affected joint
  • a swelling, which is sometimes warm to the touch
  • a feeling of grating as the tendon moves
  • a lump on the affected area

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose Achilles tendonitis after a quick examination, and can recommend any further treatment if required. Sometimes further tests, such as an X-ray, ultrasound scan or MRI scan, may be required to confirm the diagnosis.


An X-ray is used to diagnose and explore a wide variety of conditions mostly in the bones and joints, but can sometimes look at problems affecting soft tissues. They can also be used to monitor on-going conditions.


An ultrasound is an imaging procedure used to examine a wide range of parts of your body. 

Tendon operation - surgery for inflammation of the tendon

Usually a painful tendon will get better by itself in a few days, with rest. However more severe or persistent cases of tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon sheath) may require treatment.


What next?

If you are suffering with a suspected condition, you should seek the advice of your doctor who will be able to refer you to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

There are four ways to access treatment at Benenden Hospital which include self-funding, using private medical insurance or your Benenden membership, or through the NHS e-Referral scheme.