Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis
If there is a source of heel pain that is synonymous with the word “showstopper,” it’s likely Achilles tendinitis.
Far too often, this scenario unfolds. You’re excited to start a new activity or kick it up to the next level, only to have Achilles tendinitis force you to sit it out almost as soon as you begin. Sometimes you’re just trying to do your job and the problem can flare up.
What Does Achilles Tendinitis Feel Like?
The pain of Achilles tendinitis tends to manifest in the back of the heel, or just above it. It can start as a mild ache, but the pain can become worse after you spend a period of time running, climbing the stairs, or otherwise flexing your foot.
You may also feel sudden pain in the morning, once you apply pressure to your heels. A few minutes of movement often causes the pain to recede.
Additional symptoms can include:
- Feelings of tightness or stiffness along the back of your leg and heel, especially in the morning.
- Feeling swelling or a lump in the same area.
- Mild warmth in that area.
What Is Going on with Achilles Tendinitis?
The Achilles tendon is a strong band of tissue—the strongest and largest of your body, in fact—that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.
When the Achilles tendon is forced to endure more force than it can handle at one time, or for a longer length of time than it can handle, the result can be strain, small tears, and painful inflammation.
The injury can be most prevalent where the tendon attaches to the heel bone, or farther up along the tendon. This is why pain may be felt either close against the back of the heel or more along the back of the lower leg.
What Can Cause Achilles Tendinitis?
The crux of the problem often lies in overuse—subjecting your Achilles tendon to too much force all at once or over time. However, additional factors can increase one’s risk of injury:
- Poor footwear. Wearing improper, poorly fitting, or worn-out shoes can fail to give your Achilles the support it needs.
- Not warming up before activity. Forcing your Achilles tendon to move intensely without preparation can increase the chance of injury. A “weekend warrior” attitude can also be a detriment.
- Age. The older you get, the less flexible and durable you Achilles may become.
- Abnormalities in foot structure. Conditions such as flat feet can cause excess weight to be forced on the tendon.
- Tight calf muscles. Having short calf muscles can place consistent pulling strain on the Achilles tendon.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis
The sooner that a case of Achilles tendinitis is addressed, the faster and less challenging treatment tends to be.
Treatment starts as soon as you realize something is wrong. Put a halt to intense activity. Trying to “push through” the problem can result in even deeper and more painful tears, or even a full rupture of the tendon.
Give us a call and let us know what’s going on. We may recommend you come in for an appointment.
At home, keep weight off the affected foot as best you can, keep it elevated, and apply an ice pack for 10-12 minutes, two to four times per day. This can help limit pain and swelling, especially in the first couple days of the injury.
We can help you determine the root cause of the problem, and provide professional treatment if necessary. Our in-office ultrasound can give us a deeper look at your tendon, identifying areas of injury and offering a clearer understanding of just how your tendon is being affected.
After a full evaluation, we can discuss a comprehensive plan of treatment and future prevention. A plan might include:
- Ultrasound-guided injections to reduce swelling and pain.
- Changes in footwear and your approach to activity (such as incorporating warm-up routines and cross-training).
- Custom orthotics to shift excess weight away from the Achilles.
- Stretching and exercises to condition the Achilles and calf muscles.
Most mild cases of Achilles tendinitis can be effectively treated with non-surgical methods. More severe cases, such as large tears or full ruptures, might require surgical repair.
We Want to Keep You Moving
The best treatments and advice now can help keep Achilles tendinitis and other problems from stopping you down the road. Never hesitate to give us a call at the first signs of trouble.
Call our Colorado Springs office at (719) 266-5000 or fill out our online contact form to reach us.
Note: Please do not use the contact form to send extensive or Protected Health Information (PHI). Please phone our office instead.
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