Achilles Tendinitis: Can Your Heel Pain Be Treated?
Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon (a band of tissue that connects calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to the heel bone). It typically starts as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel from playing sports or after running. Generally, Achilles tendon strain occurs in runners who have suddenly increased the duration or intensity of their runs. It also occurs in middle-aged people who play sports such as basketball or tennis.
Symptoms and Causes of Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis symptoms include:
Pain when flexing the foot
Weakness in the affected leg
Soreness or stiffness in the heel
Hard knots or swelling in the Achilles tendon
Pain due to pressure from shoes
Difficulty standing on your toes
It can happen when:
Someone doesn’t warm up their calf muscles before exercising
A person suddenly increases their exercise intensity or duration
Someone performs exercises in non-supportive, worn out, and poor-fitting shoes
A person doesn’t stretch the Achilles tendon and the back of the leg after an activity
A direct hit to the area
Treatment for Achilles Tendinitis
Non-surgical treatment options include:
Rest – Switch to light activities like swimming that put less stress on the Achilles tendon
Ice – Apply ice on the tendon for 20 minutes as required in a day
Compression – Put pressure on the tendon using a surgical tape or athletic wrap
Elevation – Lie down and raise the foot on pillows, so it’s above your heart. This helps to reduce the swelling.
This is also known as the RICE method.
Other non-surgical treatment options include:
Easy exercises at home
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
We also recommend:
Avoiding overstretching the tendon or walking up steep inclines.
Wearing heel lifts, custom orthotics, and supportive shoes
Avoiding walking barefoot
Wearing a walking cast or walking boot for severe pain
Wearing a splint at night as it helps the Achilles tendon to stay stretched while you sleep.
Who Is at Risk for Achilles Tendon Disorders?
Achilles tendinitis can happen to anyone and is more common among people above 30 years of age, but you may be more at risk if you:
Work out on an uneven surface
Try out a new sport
Exercise more intensely or frequently
Have weak or tight calf muscles
Have bodyweight that is higher than usual
Wear uncomfortable or inappropriate shoes while exercising
Treatment for Achilles tendinitis or Achilles injury should be done immediately by following the doctor’s instructions, because the symptoms can worsen the condition.
If you are suffering from Achilles tendinitis and are looking for a physiotherapist near you, contact Radiant Physiotherapy at 403-457-9090. Our physiotherapists will prepare a plan to treat your pain and prevent further injuries.