The Achilles tendon, for as large, hard-working, and outright amazing as it is, also tends to get a lot of bad press.
You never hear anyone talk about the strength of their Achilles. In fact, if you mention “torn” or “swollen” in relation to it, you most likely get an empathetic wince of pain.
The Achilles tendon, unfortunately, is not one of those areas we tend to think about until it is causing pain. When you develop Achilles tendinitis, that aching pain against or just above the heel pushes it to the forefront.
What people do with that warning bell, however, is another matter. Some simply try to wait out the pain. Hardcore athletic types may even try to work through it; neither of these is a good idea.
Treating Achilles tendinitis sooner than later reduces the risk of your Achilles coming out of its injury weaker and more prone to re-injury in the future. Such complications can lead to more severe pain that lasts longer, or possibly cause permanent damage.
It is worth giving us a call if you have persistent or severe pain. It’s never worth holding off advanced treatment for your Achilles if needed.
What to Do for Achilles Tendinitis at Home
If you feel pain from a suspected Achilles injury, the first thing you can do is rest the area.
Yes, this will include either reducing or temporarily halting the activities that may have contributed to the condition. Running, for example? Sorry. You will not be maintaining your routine for a while.
Additional treatment that can be helpful follows the classic RICE method:
- Ice – Apply an ice pack to the Achilles for 15-20 minutes at a time when you experience pain and swelling. Be sure not to apply extreme cold directly to your skin. If you don’t have an ice pack or compress, fill a Styrofoam cup with water and freeze it for an easy and effective alternative.
- Compress – An ace bandage or an elastic wrap can also help reduce swelling and helpfully restrict movement of the tendon. If you don’t know the proper way to wrap yourself, have us or another professional teach you.
- Elevate – When seated, prop the affected foot above the level of your heart and keep it there for an extended time to help reduce swelling in the tendon. (This may also be a good time to ice the area)
Using a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) such as naproxen sodium or ibuprofen can also be helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Please be sure to follow directions on these medications as indicated. You should also consult a physician if it looks like you might be using the medication for more than 1 month.
More Advanced Help for Your Achilles Tendon
Early treatment for Achilles Tendinitis can produce a more timely recovery. When you visit Preferred Foot & Ankle Specialists for your Achilles, we will assess and discuss a treatment plan for you.
Additional conservative treatment may include exercises to strengthen your calf muscles to help reduce strain on your tendons.
In some cases, an injection may be recommended to reduce inflammation if other attempts to relieve pain have not been effective. In cases where irregular foot shape is a factor in stressing the Achilles tendon, orthotic management may be prescribed to provide needed support and proper distribution of weight along the foot.
If the above conservative care strategies have not produced the type of result we would like, surgery would be an option.
Take the Best Route to Recovery
Achilles tendinitis can be a bothersome condition, and one that takes patience to fully resolve. Most patients tend toward 3 months of treatment where they experience relief.
But if it takes that long when undergoing treatment, imagine how much longer it could go on if you do nothing, or even making the problem worse!
Dr. Jarman, Dr. Weintrub and the staff at Preferred Foot & Ankle Specialists will take the time to understand your lifestyle and mobility goals in addition to the degree of your Achilles tendinitis, and formulate a plan that can help you stay on track without risking further injury.
Call (480) 497-3946 to reach our Gilbert office and schedule an appointment.