Achilles tendinitis refers to a type of overuse injury of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is a band of tissue that connects the calf muscles located at the back of the lower leg to the hell bone of the foot.
Achilles tendinitis is common in athletes and runners, especially those who have suddenly increased the duration of intensity of the running. Achilles tendinitis is also a common condition in middle-aged individuals in indulge in sports activities such as basketball or tennis, during the weekends only.
In most cases of Achilles tendinitis, the condition can be simply treated at home or under your doctor’s upper vision, by yourself. Self-care treatment measures are usually required to prevent injuries from recurring. In severe cases of Achilles tendinitis, the tendon is usually torn and thus, required surgery to be repaired.
Signs and symptoms
Achilles tendinitis usually causes a mild ache in the beginning at the back of the leg, or right above the heel, particularly after running or other weight bearing sports activities. Frequent bouts of severe pain may occur due to prolonged running, sprinting or climbing the stairs.
Additional symptoms of Achilles tendinitis may also include tenderness or stiffness, usually in the morning after waking up. Pain and other symptoms may subside with rest.
When to seek medical attention
If you suffer from persistent pain due to the injury, see a doctor as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if the disability or pain is severe as you may have ruptured or torn the Achilles tendon in your foot.
Achilles tendinitis occurs as a result of intense or repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon of the foot. The tendon facilitates movements when you walk, run, push up on your toes or jump.
Moreover, the Achilles tendon weakens as a person ages. This will make the person more prone to injuries; especially in people who participate in sports activities only on the weekends or people who have recently increased the intensity of their runs.
Self care measures are effective in treating Achilles tendinitis. However, if signs and symptom are persistent or severe, you may have to follow other treatment options as directed by your doctor.
Self care treatment measures for Achilles tendinitis include the R.I.C.E. treatment:
- Rest. You may have to avoid physical activity and exercise for many days or resort to activities that may not stress the Achilles tendon such as low-impact activities like swimming. In severe cases, you may be directed to wear a walking boot and also use crutches to rest your foot more efficiently.
- Ice. You should ice the affected region to reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes after exercise or when you feel pain.
- Compression. Wrap an elastic bandage on the affected region to reduce swelling and also minimize movement of the Achilles tendon.
- Elevation. Raise the injured foot above heart level to encourage blood flow and reduce swelling. Prop your feet up above heart level using pillows before going to sleep at night.
Other treatment options for Achilles tendinitis include:
- Medication. Use over-the-counter pain medication such as naproxen and ibuprofen to reduce pain. If these medications are ineffective, your doctor may administer stronger pain medication to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy may involve doing some stretching and strengthening exercise in order to restore the strength of the Achilles tendon and promote healing. You may also be required to use shoe inserts or a wedge to subtly elevate the heel of your foot in order to reduce strain to the Achilles tendon and cushion the tendon to minimize excessive force exerted on it.
- Surgery. If several months of self-care or conservative treatments prove to be ineffective or if your Achilles tendon is ruptured, you may require surgery to repair the affected tendon.