Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Heel pain and Achilles tendonitis - aftercare


When you overuse the Achilles tendon, it can become swollen and painful near the bottom of the foot and cause heel pain. This is called Achilles tendonitis.

More About Your Injury

The Achilles tendon connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. Together, they help you push your heel off the ground when you stand up on your toes. You use these muscles and your Achilles tendon when you walk, run, and jump.

Heel pain is most often due to overuse of the foot. It is rarely caused by an injury.

Tendonitis due to overuse is most common in younger people. It can occur in walkers, runners, or other athletes.

Tendonitis from arthritis is more common in middle aged or older adults. A bone spur or growth may form in the back of the heel bone. This may irritate the Achilles tendon and causes pain and swelling.

What To Expect

You might feel pain in the heel along the length of the tendon when walking or running. Your pain and stiffness might increase in the morning. The tendon may be painful to touch. The area may be warm and swollen.

You might also have trouble standing up on one toe and moving the foot up and down.

Your health care provider will examine your foot. You may have an X-ray or an MRI to check for problems with your bones or with your Achilles tendon.

Self-care at Home

Follow these steps to relieve symptoms and help your injury heal:

  • Apply ice over the Achilles tendon for 15 to 20 minutes, 2 to 3 times per day. Use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth. DO NOT apply ice directly to skin.
  • Take painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) to decrease inflammation and pain.
  • Wear a walking boot or heel lifts if recommended by your provider.

Talk with your provider before using pain medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or have had stomach ulcers or internal bleeding in the past. DO NOT take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your provider.


To allow your tendon to heal, you should stop or decrease activities that cause pain, such as running or jumping.

  • Do activities that do not strain the tendon, such as swimming or cycling.
  • When walking or running, choose soft, smooth surfaces. Avoid hills.
  • Gradually increase the amount of activity you do.

Your provider may give you exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendon.

  • Range of motion exercises will help you regain movement in all directions.
  • Do exercises gently. DO NOT over-stretch, which can injure your Achilles tendon.
  • Strengthening exercises will help prevent tendonitis from coming back

Follow up

If your symptoms do not improve with self care in 2 weeks, see your health care provider. If your injury does not heal with self-care, you may need to see a physical therapist.

Having tendonitis puts you at risk for an Achilles tendon rupture. You can help prevent further problems by keeping up with stretching and strengthening exercises to keep your foot flexible and strong.

When To Call a Doctor

You should call your health care provider:

  • If your symptoms do not improve or get worse
  • You notice a sharp pain in your ankle
  • You have trouble walking or standing on your foot


Achilles Tendinitis. In: Safran MR, Zachazewski J, Stone DA, eds. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:40-43.

Foot and Ankle Injuries. In: Brent BS, ed. Clinical Orthopaedic Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Approach. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 5.

Jevremovic T, Asem K, Bonin M, et al. Overview of Sport-Specific Injuries. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 12.

Review Date:6/12/2015
Reviewed By:Dennis Ogiela, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?