When Achilles tendonitis is not treated, it may lead to Achilles tendinosis (sometimes spelled tendonosis), which is when an already swollen and inflamed Achilles tendon begins to degenerate, lose its organized structure, develop microscopic tears and possibly rupture.
Symptoms of Achilles tendonosis include abrupt and severe pain right above your heel, a snapping or popping noise that occurs in the tendon area, swelling, extreme stiffness and enlargement of the tendon that eventually leads to nodules where the tissue is damaged. People with Achilles tendonosis often have a tough time flexing the heel (calcaneous bone) and calf (which consists of the gastrocnemius muscle and soleus muscle).
An overuse of the Achilles tendon is usually the cause of Achilles tendonosis, which is an extreme form of Achilles tendinitis that leads to the tendon rupturing. Common activities that lead to overuse of the tendon include engaging in an increased amount of physical activity without warming up, wearing high heels that stress and damage the Achilles tendon, and a sudden increase of exercise without slowly working toward your fitness goals. Bone spurs, over pronation and gout are also ailments that can cause Achilles tendonitis, which can then lead to Achilles tendonosis.
When dealing with Achilles tendinosis, it’s best to choose a doctor experienced in tendinopathy. Achilles tendinosis is a serious condition that may call for gastrocnemius recession (a lengthening of the gastrocnemius muscles in the calf) or debridement with tendon transfer (a removal of the damaged tissue and replacement of the tendon with tissue from the big toe). Most cases of Achilles tendonosis need surgical repair with several weeks or months of recovery time.