Achilles tendinitis is a common condition that affects many people. It often causes heel pain in athletes who enjoy running. If you notice pain behind your heel or ankle when you are active, don’t despair. As far as ankle injuries go, it is fairly easy to treat and prevent, and it usually has no long-lasting complications.
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the largest tendon in the body, which is the Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle. This tendon undergoes great stress and strain on an every day basis because it bears all of your weight. This is increased even more when you live an active lifestyle.
There are two types of this condition. Noninsertional affects the middle part of the tendon, when overuse causes small fibers to tear, bringing swelling and inflammation. It is usually found in athletes. Insertional involves the part of the tendon that connects to the heel bone. This type can affect anybody at any time. If you notice swelling, pain, or stiffness that gets worse with activity, or have bone spurs at the back of your heel, you may be suffering from Achilles tendinitis.
What Causes This Condition?
Typically this condition is caused by overuse such as intense running. It is not a result of direct trauma as many foot conditions are, but rather builds up over time. One reason is because we tend to push ourselves too hard. Instead of suddenly increasing the intensity of your workout, try gradually raising it over a period of time. If you have tight calf muscles you also put yourself at risk for this condition. It is so important to warm up and stretch your muscles before jumping right into an exercise program. Bone spurs can also cause this problem because they rub up against the tendon, which causes pain and irritation.
How to Treat an Inflamed Achilles Tendon
More often than not you can treat Achilles tendinitis at home. You may be able to control your pain symptoms, but it can take a longer period of time to completely heal, so make sure you go easy on yourself during that process. The most important thing to do is to stop the activity that is causing the pain. This may sound obvious, but many people tend to want to push through pain so they don’t have to quit exercising. This can cause further and more long-lasting damage, so do yourself the favor of resting your ankle. Every day you should be applying ice to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation.
We can prescribe certain medications such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory that can reduce pain and swelling. It is also a good idea to engage in stretching exercises or physical therapy to strengthen the muscles. There are certain shoes and orthotics out there that can help displace the strain put on your Achilles tendon. In more extreme cases, cortisone injections, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), or even surgery may be beneficial. If surgery is required it is crucial that you follow all post-operative instructions so that you heal properly and your chances of a repeat injury decrease.
Getting Medical Help
For more information about treating Achilles tendinitis, give Dr. Evan Merrill a call at (541) 776-3338 to make an appointment in our Ashland, OR office. We can help you find the right treatment so you can get back to running without heel pain.
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