Achilles tendonitis is a condition of the foot that is characterized by pain and inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which is the band of tissue that connects the heel to the lower calf. This condition typically occurs as a result of overusing or straining the calf muscles or Achilles tendon, which is often due to intense physical activities such as running or jumping. Although most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be remedied by simple, conventional treatments, more severe cases may require surgery or other more invasive treatment methods.
In order to properly diagnose Achilles tendonitis, a doctor may perform a foot exam and ask questions concerning medical history and physical activity levels. In addition, imaging tests, such as ultrasounds and X-rays, may be administered in order to rule out other conditions.
Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
Factors that can contribute to Achilles tendonitis include the following:
- Sports or activities that involve sudden and frequent starting and stopping, such as tennis or basketball
- Increased duration and/or intensity of workouts
- Running or climbing uphill or on uneven surfaces
- Feet with little or no arch
- Wearing old or worn-out shoes when exercising
- Neglecting warmups before exercise
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
- Swelling of the Achilles tendon
- Aches and pains of the lower calf and Achilles tendon
- Weakness in the ankles and lower legs
- Pain that is worse in the morning, but improves with mild activity
- Pain in the Achilles tendon as a result of physical activity, especially running or climbing
Depending on its severity, Achilles tendonitis can be treated through the use of several methods. The following methods are all recommended in the treatment of this condition:
This acronym, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, details steps that are often taken in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis and other injuries.
- NSAID Pain Relievers
These types of medications, available by prescription or over-the-counter, will relieve pain and discomfort as well as swelling and inflammation.
Stretching the Achilles tendon and surrounding areas will help promote healing, as well as prevent the condition from recurring.
- Strengthen Leg Muscles
Exercises that focus on the calves can help strengthen the lower leg. This can help take pressure from the Achilles tendon, which will prevent problems in this area.
Certain orthopedic products, such as heel cups or shoe inserts, can raise the position of the heel and provide cushion for the foot, which can relieve pressure from the Achilles tendon.
Injections of corticosteroids can reduce the swelling inflammation associated with chronic Achilles tendonitis.
In severe cases of Achilles tendonitis, surgery can be performed to repair damaged tissue.
- Choose the Proper Footwear
Shoes, especially those designed for exercise, should provide adequate heel and arch support, and should be suited to your particular needs. Factors such as size, shape and activity preferences should be considered when purchasing workout shoes. Shoes should also be replaced when wear and tear become evident.
Stretching the calves several times a day will prevent damage to the Achilles tendon, and is especially recommended for those who have recurring problems in this area.
- Switch Up Your Workout Routine
Instead of sticking to one high-impact workout regimen, alternating workouts with low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming or biking, can prevent Achilles tendonitis and other injuries.
The following products can be used to treat and prevent Achilles tendonitis:
- Stretching Device: http://www.footsmart.com/P-FootSmart-SmartFlexx-Stretching-Device-10741.aspx?c=None
- Achilles Heel Pad: http://www.footsmart.com/P-Silipos-Achilles-Heel-Sleeve-1-Pair-97825.aspx?c=None
- Warming Pain Relief Gel: http://www.footsmart.com/P-Sore-No-More-Warm-Therapy-8-oz-50525.aspx?c=None