Ways to Manage Achilles Tendinitis
When the tendon that connects the back of the leg to the heel (Achilles tendon) becomes swollen and painful, the condition is known as Achilles tendinitis.
Achilles tendinitis is very common among runners who drastically increase the intensity or the duration of their runs.
It is also prevalent among middle-aged people who play sports like tennis and basketball on the weekends.
Achilles tendinitis is likely to manifest when:
- There is a sudden increase in the intensity or amount of physical activity
- The calf muscles are very tight or not stretched out
- Running on surfaces that are hard like concrete
- Running too often
- Not wearing footwear that provides the right support
- There is a lot of jumping involved, for instance when playing basketball
- When the foot is drastically turned in or out
Achilles tendinitis that develops due to arthritis is common among middle-aged and older individuals.
A bone spur or growth may also develop in the back of the heel bone and may irritate the Achilles tendon as a result.
This irritation will often result to swelling and pain.
Common symptoms of Achilles tendinitis can include:
- Pain in the heel and along the tendon’s length when walking or running
- Pain and stiffness in the affected area in the mornings
- Difficulty when standing up using only one toe
- Swelling in the area affected
Several factors have been known to increase the risk for Achilles tendinitis.
Some of the factors are:
The condition is more common among men than in women.
The likelihood of the condition occurring more increases as one ages.
Running on hilly terrains and wearing ill-filling shoes can also increase one’s risk of developing Achilles injury.
Individuals with psoriasis and high blood pressure are more prone to developing the condition.
Those with a naturally flat arch are likely to put more strain on the Achilles tendon. Obesity and tight calf muscles have also been identified to increase tendon strain.
Preventing Achilles tendinitis from happening is not exactly possible.
However, there are certain measures one can be exercised to help reduce one’s risk.
For starters, the following measure would help:
Increasing activity level gradually.
Every time you start an exercise regimen, it is recommended that you start out slow and increase the duration and the intensity gradually as you go along.
Ensure to stretch the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon before and after exercising. This is done in order to retain flexibility.
Make sure you alternate high impact activities like jumping or running with low impact ones like cycling and swimming to help ensure lesser strain is placed on the Achilles tendon
Most of the time, Achilles tendinitis will respond to home remedies.
However, in cases where the symptoms become severe and persistent, other treatment options might be recommended.
OTC medications like ibuprofen and naproxen might be prescribed to help ease the pain and the swelling.
If the condition will not respond, stronger medications might be given.
A physical therapist may suggest the following treatment options:
Therapists will recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to promote tendon healing as well as healing of the supporting structures.
A shoe insert or a wedge that can elevate the heel slightly can help relieve strain. It can also provide the much needed cushion so force that is exerted in the tendon is lessened.
If the condition will not respond to conservative treatments, surgery to repair the tendon might be necessary.
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