What to Do About Achilles Tendinitis
Guess which tendon in the body is the largest and strongest?
If you guessed the Achilles tendon, then you’ve got it!
But don’t be mistaken – just because it is the hardest-working tendon in your body does not make it invincible. In fact, given the cumulative impacts our Achilles tendons have to endure each and every day, the risk of developing painful injuries is very real. And, unfortunately, most of us don’t really pay much attention to them … that is, until they start causing us pain and keeping us from being active.
Even then, some of us may simply wait for the pain to go away on its own, while others might try to keep working through the pain. This, of course, is a terrible idea, and most athletes figure that out sooner rather than later—and then they learn that their condition has worsened and recovery will take much longer.
Don’t make the same mistake!
If the backs of your heels are in pain, get the treatment you need (and deserve!) right away. Addressing symptoms of Achilles tendinitis now will reduce the risk of your Achilles tendon becoming weaker and even more injury-prone later.
Since we know you don’t want to deal with more severe, longer-lasting, treatment-resistant pain in the future, we have some tips to help you get your feet back on track as soon as pain strikes. And the good news is you can begin treating your Achilles tendinitis right at home! (Though you should keep in mind that an initial visit to our office is important to accurately diagnose your condition and determine if other treatment measures should also be considered.)
But first …
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury that is common in patients who are physically active. This condition happens when the tendon becomes irritated and inflamed due to excessive stress. Anything from wearing improper footwear to increasing activity levels too quickly can cause the Achilles tendon to become injured.
Of course, there are other risk factors which can put you at a higher risk of developing tendinitis. Some of these include:
- Your gender. Men are at a much higher risk of suffering from this condition compared to women.
- Your age. As you age, the structure in your Achilles tendon will begin to weaken, increasing your chances of injury.
- Your training choices. If you use footwear which is worn down, or if you run in very hilly terrain, you are putting extra pressure on your feet.
- Your physical characteristics. If you have flat feet or are obese, you are putting more strain on your foot and, therefore, your chances of being injured increases.
Now, if one or more of these risk factors apply to you, does that mean you are doomed to become a couch potato for the rest of your life?
You can protect your feet and prevent this painful condition by simply performing your activities properly, including warming up before you start your workout routine and wearing supportive shoes that are specific to your sport(s) of choice. And if your heels start to complain, take steps to address the problem.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis at Home
Whether you feel pain in the back of your heels, in the bottom of your foot, or anywhere else in your lower limbs, your best course of action will always be to give the area some time to rest. This means either reducing or temporarily halting the activities that may have contributed to the condition.
You should also follow the RICE treatment method. It goes as follows:
- Rest. We already touched on this, but we would like to emphasize the importance of giving your feet time to rest and heal. If you keep putting excessive pressure on your heels, the injury will only keep getting worse.
- Ice. Apply an ice pack to the area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Be sure not to apply extreme cold directly to your skin – use a towel for protection.
- Compress. An ace bandage or an elastic wrap can also help reduce swelling and helpfully restrict movement of the tendon.
- Elevate. Lift the affected foot above the level of your heart and keep it there for an extended period of time to reduce swelling in the tendon.
Using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as naproxen sodium or ibuprofen can also be useful in reducing pain and swelling symptoms.
If you continue to experience discomfort or your pain is too severe to respond to at-home remedies, we may recommend other treatment measures to get you back on your feet.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis at Our Office
So here’s the truth:
The earlier and more direct treatment is applied to your Achilles tendinitis, the faster and more effective your recovery will actually be.
When you come to our office, you won’t only better cover the basis for potential treatment, but we will also be able to provide treatments that may be better suited for your specific needs and lifestyle.
In some cases, we may recommend cortisone injections if other attempts to relieve your pain have not been effective. In other cases, if an abnormal foot shape is playing a role in stressing the Achilles tendon, we may recommend heel lifts or custom-made orthotics to provide support and properly redistribute weight along the foot and heel.
MLS laser therapy is another treatment option that is especially popular with athletes, since it can accelerate your body’s natural healing mechanisms and shorten your recovery timetable when combined with other treatments.
Surgery is rarely necessary to address Achilles tendinitis symptoms. But if the treatments and therapies we prescribe are not able to find the relief you are looking for, then surgery may become a consideration. And if we determine a surgical approach is best for you, we will thoroughly discuss what this will entail so that you can move forward with treatment feeling confident.
Get the Help You Need Today!
The bottom line is:
Achilles tendinitis can hold you back from being active and doing the things you love. So instead of suffering with this painful problem, come visit Colorado Center for Podiatric Sports Medicine today – together, we will find the best treatment to get you back on your feet. (And our office is well equipped with some of the most advanced treatments available to do just that!)
Give our office a call at (720) 600-3380 to schedule an appointment, or simply fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.