Achilles Tendinitis

What Is Achilles Tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is what happens when the Achilles tendon is overused. The Achilles tendon is the specific tissue that connects your calf muscles at the back of the lower leg to your heel bone. This condition is most often found in runners who have recently and suddenly increased the duration and intensity of their runs. 

 It can also be common in middle-aged people who play sports on the weekends such as basketball or tennis. Usually, Achilles tendinitis can be quite simple to treat. It can be done at home under your doctors’ supervision.

 The serious cases, however, can often lead to tendon tears, also known as ruptures, that will likely require surgical care.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ACHILLES TENDINITIS? 

Some of the most common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include:

  • Pain on the back of the heal when wearing shoes
  • Pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon in the morning
  • Swelling that is present all the time and gets worse throughout the way or with activity
  • Severe pain the day after exercising
  • Bone spur formation
  • Thickening of the tendon
  • Severe pain the day after exercising

 If you have ever experienced a sudden pop in the back of your heel or calf, it could be a sign that you have torn your Achilles tendon. Make sure you see your doctor immediately if you think that you may have torn your Achilles tendon.

Podiatrist treating Achilles tendinitis

HOW TO TREAT ACHILLES TENDINITIS

Here are some of the treatment options available when treating Achilles tendinitis.

Nonsurgical Treatment

In many cases of Achilles tendinitis, there are nonsurgical options available that will provide adequate pain relief. Though, it may take a few months or so for symptoms to adequately subside. Even when intervention is early, the pain may last longer than 3 months.

The mainstays of nonsurgical treatment will often include activity modification, anti-inflammatory pain medications, physical therapy exercises, shoe wear modifications. Nonsurgical options often include:

  • Rest – The first way to reduce your pain is to decrease or completely stop the activities that make the pain worse for you. If you are regularly doing high-impact exercises, like running, you will need to switch to low-impact options or stop exercising completely. Your doctor may also give you an ankle brace or boot immobilization.
  • Ice – Another option is to place ice on the area that is most painful. It is very helpful and can help as needed throughout the day. It can be done for up to 20 minutes at a time. A foam cup filled with water can often make a great reusable ice pack.
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – Anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen can help to reduce swelling and pain. This can help to decrease your pain enough to undergo physical therapy exercises.
  • Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can be very helpful when it comes to treating Achilles tendinitis. Exercises such as calf stretches, and heel drops can help you to treat your tendinitis.
  • Cortisone Injections – Cortisone is a type of steroid that works as a powerful anti-inflammatory medication. While cortisone injections can be used for other conditions and injuries, injections to the Achilles tendon are not always recommended as they can cause the tendon to rupture.
  • Night Splinting – Night splinting is a great way to provide significant relief for morning pain when you first wake up in the morning. These braces are removable and allow you to hold your foot in place by pointing your toes upward while you sleep. This will help you maintain calf flexibility.
  • Supportive Shoes and Orthotics – Some forms of Achilles tendinitis are often helped with certain shoes and orthotic devices. Shoes that are more open or softer at the back of the heel can help the tendon by reducing inflammation.

Surgical Treatment

When it comes to Achilles tendinitis and surgical treatment, it should only be considered if the pain doesn’t improve after six months. The surgery will depend on the location of the damage. Types of surgical treatment include:

  • Debridement – Debridement is used to clean up the damaged tissue. Metal or plastic anchors and stitches can be used to help the tendon remain in place.
  • Gastrocnemius Recession – This is known as a surgical lengthening of the calf muscles. Tight calf muscles often place more stress on the Achilles tendon. This means that this treatment option is great for patients who are struggling to flex their feet.
  • Minimally Invasive SurgeryThis surgery is becoming a very popular treatment option. However, it can often be less effective for patients with extensive tendon damage.

Treat Your Achilles Tendinitis Pain Today

To finally solve your Achilles Tendinitis pain, set up an appointment with Dr. Joel Foster in Lee’s Summit, MO! Please reach out to us online or give our office a call at (816) 246-4222.