Achilles Tendonitis, also known by the names Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendinopathy, or Achilles tendinosis, is a condition caused by injury to the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, situated at the back of the ankle, which allows you to point your toes towards the floor or helps you to stand on toes.
Injury to the Achilles tendon is common and is accompanied by a burning sensation or stiffness in that part of your leg. Severe pain in the Achilles tendon due to an injury can mean that it is completely ruptured or is partially torn.
Achilles tendonitis can be caused due to many reasons, especially when people carry out activities that require them to make sudden movements or land on their feet. Achilles tendonitis is most common among men who are over the age of 30. Some of the activities that can increase the risks of Achilles tendinitis are-
- Playing sports like volleyball, football, basketball, and tennis, to name a few
Other than such activities, certain lifestyle choices and existing physical features may also cause the problem of Achilles tendonitis. Some other actions that that can possibly be responsible for Achilles tendonitis are-
- Taking medications called glucocorticoids or fluoroquinolones
- Tightness in the tendons or muscles in the legs
- Having flat feet, which results in stretching the muscles or tendons of the legs whenever you take a step.
- Wearing high heels, which causes stress in the tendons.
What are the symptoms?
If you happen to have Achilles tendonitis, the most obvious symptom will be a sensation of pain above the heel. This pain is more prominent when you stretch your ankle or try standing on your toes.
In case of a rupture or tear, you may hear a popping or snapping sound in the affected area, which may later result in swelling, tenderness, and stiffness. In this case, the pain is more severe and you will have trouble moving your toes, especially while walking.
In case of severity, it is recommended to visit your doctor, who will carry out tests that can help in the diagnosis of what might have led to the injury. As a part of the tests that will be carried out, your doctor might do the calf squeeze test. The test will help your doctor determine the severity of the injury to your Achilles tendon.
What are the treatments for Achilles Tendonitis?
If the injury to your Achilles tendon is minor, it will heal on its own. Yet, it is always best to take measures that can help to speed the healing process. Some of the self-recovery methods that you can opt for are:
- Giving your affected leg the rest it needs by avoiding putting any type of pressure on it. You may use crutches for support.
- Apply an ice pack over the injured area for at least 20 minutes at a time.
- Keep your injured leg compressed by using an elastic bandage wrapped around the lower leg and ankle. This will control the swelling in the area.
- Whether you are seated or lying down, keep your feet elevated. You can use a pillow to rest your leg on.
In case the pain is unbearable or the swelling does not subside you can ask your doctor to prescribe medications. It is always to talk to your doctor before taking any medication to prevent any harmful side-effects.
Your doctor may also recommend using a heel lift or wearing an insert in your shoe during the recovery process. This can help in protecting the Achilles tendon from further stretching.
Physical therapy for Achilles tendonitis can also help to greatly decrease your pain and gradually allows you to return to your normal activities, especially after an Achilles tendon rupture. Your physiotherapist will provide you with the necessary instructions, exercises, and support to help with recovery and prevention of future injuries. The following treatment methods may be recommended as a part of your physical therapy.
- Stretching exercises to improve your flexibility.
- Strengthening exercises to help you reclaim the energy that you might have lost while the tendon was healing. These exercises will also help protect you from further injuries.
- Ultrasound heat therapy to increase blood circulation.
- Deep massage to improve flexibility and blood circulation in the lower leg.
How long will it take to heal?
Every case of Achilles tendonitis is different and recovery will depend on the severity of the injury. While you heal, you may still be active, but it is always best to ask your doctor about what kind of activity you can carry out.
If you are looking forward to having a speedy recovery then you should follow the precautions below.
What preventive measures should I take?
The occurrence of Achilles tendinitis cannot be prevented, but there are measures you can take to reduce the risk. Here’s what you can do.
- During recovery from Achilles tendonitis, Increase your activities slowly. For instance, if you have just begun an exercise routine, don’t try to push yourself. Start slowly and increase your duration and pace gradually.
- Avoid performing any physical activity that may cause excessive stress on the tendons. Even if you do decide to take part in strenuous activities, the right way is to warm up first. If during an exercise you notice any signs of pain, stop and rest.
- Choose your shoes carefully. Your shoes should be able to give your heels enough cushioning along with firm arch support that can assist you in reducing any tension in the Achilles tendon.
- Take your time to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon whenever you can to maintain flexibility and avoid the recurrence of Achilles tendinitis.
Talk to your doctor or physiotherapist for more advice on managing Achilles tendonitis. The condition is healable but without the right care, there might be lifelong problems that you may have to face. Pushing yourself too much during the recovery phase may result in new injuries and you would not want that.
If you are looking to heal at home from Achilles tendonitis, you can get in touch with HCAH’s expert and experienced team of home-based physiotherapists. They have the expertise to help you recovery from a wide range of conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, knee pain and post-surgery rehabilitation among others. To know more about their services or a complete assessment of your condition, get in touch with HCAH’s world-class and trained physiotherapists for Achilles tendonitis on 18001024224 or book an appointment online.