The Achilles tendon is not only the largest tendon in the body, but the strongest as well. It can withstand a great amount of stress from physical activity, but because we put it through so much with every step, jump, and stance we take, it is vulnerable to injury. In such an instance, treatment at the very onset of pain is essential to avoid serious problems. If caught early enough, you can treat Achilles tendonitis with conservative methods.
Achilles tendonitis is most often characterized by pain in the heel and along the tendon that connects your heel to your calf muscle. You might also have limited ankle flexibility and notice redness or heat in the affected area. Typically, it is swollen, tender to the touch, and painful to move.
Too Much Stress!
The condition can be brought on by not stretching your calves properly before activity. Tight calf muscles transfer too much burden to your Achilles. Simply overtraining is another cause. If you are a runner and suddenly increase your mileage, or add excessive hill or speed work to your routine, this can put too much stress the Achilles. In addition, inflexible shoes can force the tendon to twist, and if you overpronate, meaning your ankles rotate too far inward on impact, this makes you more susceptible to the condition.
A Hefty Helping of R.I.C.E.
If you start feeling pain in your Achilles, serve yourself up some R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Refraining from activity will help the tendon take the necessary time to heel. Ice helps with pain and inflammation, as does elevating your foot and wrapping your ankle snuggly.
Other conservative ways to treat Achilles tendonitis include taking anti-inflammatory medication, massaging the area, and changing to better-fitting, more comfortable shoes. Orthotic inserts that help distribute weight evenly, correct alignment, and provide added support and cushioning can also be helpful. Avoid weight-bearing exercise. Choose alternative activities like swimming or biking in low gear. Stretching not only helps the recovery process, but aids in prevention as well.
Stretch it out
Strengthening and stretching the muscles in your calves, feet, and shins will help prevent a recurrence of the injury. Try sitting on the floor with a weight strapped to the top of your foot. Bend your knee keeping your heel on the floor. Lift your toes upward, lower, and repeat. Another simple stretch that helps: stand on the stairs with only the balls of your feet touching and your heels hanging off of the edge. Drop your heels down and hold, then alternate heels.
Think Outside the Box
Physical therapy can provide help with recovery, but a different type of therapy is available as well. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy uses shockwaves to expedite healing and repair. Yet another emerging treatment method is the injection of platelet-rich plasma, or PRP. These platelets contain a high concentration of proteins which are extremely important in the healing process. Ask Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS and Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS about these promising remedies, and other ways in which you can treat Achilles tendonitis pain.
Visit Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists here in Austin TX today, or call for an appointment by dialing (512) 328-8900. If you suffer from Achilles pain, surgery doesn’t have to be the answer. There are plenty of conservative treatments that will get your tendon healthy again.
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