Achilles Tendonitis: What Is It?
The Achilles tendon is the part of the body that attaches the heel to the calf muscles. This is used for running, walking, jumping and simple standing. When you do intense and continuous physical activity, it is possible to cause the Achilles tendon to become inflamed, which is known as Achilles tendonitis (sometimes spelled tendinitis).
It is possible to treat Achilles tendonitis from home with some very simple methods. These will not always work and then you need to seek medical attention. Allowing it to go untreated can cause a tear in the tendon and this could need surgery to repair.
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms
Most people will feel pain and there will be some swelling around the area and in the heel whenever you run or walk. Other symptoms include the calf muscles being tight and having a limited range when trying to flex your foot. The skin around your heel can also feel warm when you touch it.
Achilles Tendonitis Causes
The most common reason for someone to suffer from Achilles tendonitis is too much exercise. Athletes are among the most common to suffer from it. However, there are other factors that are not linked to exercise. Others include infections around the tendon and rheumatoid arthritis.
Repeated activity affecting the Achilles tendon is linked to tendonitis. Some of the problems may be:
- Doing exercise without warming up properly
- Staining your calf muscles during physical exercise and activities
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or are old
- Wearing heels on a regular basis
- Playing sports involve quick changes of direction and stops, such as basketball and tennis
Getting an Achilles Tendonitis Diagnosis
Your doctor will need to find out more about the swelling and pain that you feel in your heel to be able to diagnose your problem. This can involve asking you to stand on your balls of the feet so he can see the flexibility and motion you have (or lack of!) and he may touch the area to pinpont the exact area of concer.
Image testing will help to confirm the diagnosis:
- X-rays of the leg and foot
- MRI to spot degeneration and ruptures in the tissue
- Ultrasounds to find the inflammation, damage and movement of the tendon
Achilles Tendonitis Treatment
It is possible to treat tendonitis in a number of ways. Some doctors will suggest that you rest while others will offer surgery, depending on the severity. Some of the suggestions include:
- Reducing the amount of physical activity that you do
- Switching the type of sport you do
- Strengthening and stretching your calves
- Placing a cold compress on the area after exercising and when in pain
- Decreasing the swelling by raising the foot
- Physical therapy
- Using a brace or elastic bandages to limit the movement
- Using anti-inflammatory drugs for a short period of time
- Opt for steroid injections
Some of the less invasive techniques are not effective and surgery may be required. This can treat a tear in the tendon. If the tendon is not treated then there is a bigger risk of it rupturing, where the main symptom is a sudden, sharp pain around your heel.
Achilles Tendonitis Prevention
You can reduce the risk of developing tendonitis by strengthening your calf muscles. Start your day by stretching to lower your risk of injury and improve agility. It is also important to stretch before and after all your workouts. Lunge forward, keeping the back heel on the floor to stretch this tendon. Always talk to your doctor if you feel pain and before starting any new routine or physical activity.
When you do exercise, it is best to have incremental goals. This will help you build your levels and avoid injury. Sudden movements need to be limited so that there is no jolt between the calves and heels. You could also mist low and high impact routines to help reduce the amount of stress placed on the tendon, such as combining swimming and basketball.
Decrease the pressure on your tendon when hanging out with your friends by wearing the right shoes. Find those with a good support for the arch and cushioning for the feet. Replace old shoes regularly, or change the insoles to give you better support.
You may find there is discomfort when you switch between flats and heels. Your Achilles tendon can become shorter if you wear high heels on a regular basis but flat shoes lead to extra bending at the back of the foot. Those not used to this will find it more painful. Instead of quickly changing, reduce the height of the heels regularly to allow your tendon to stretch slowly and gradually increase its flexibility.