The term “Achilles’ heel” comes from the ancient myth of Achilles, who was said to have been dipped into the river Styx by his mother to make him invulnerable. Unfortunately, Achilles’ heel wasn’t covered by the water, and he was later killed by an arrow wound to that heel.
Even those of us who are not part of Greek mythology can suffer from pain in our Achilles’ heel, often in the form of Achilles tendonitis.
Achilles tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is commonly seen in athletes who engage in activities involving repetitive jumping, running, or sudden increases in intensity or duration. Other contributing factors may include tight calf muscles, improper footwear, poor running technique, or underlying conditions such as obesity or arthritis.
Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis may include:
- Pain and stiffness along the back of the heel, especially prevalent in the morning or after periods of inactivity;
- Tenderness and swelling in the affected area;
- Increased pain with activity, especially during running or jumping;
- Thickening or enlargement of the tendon.
Achilles tendonitis often responds well to non-surgical treatments including:
- Avoiding activities that worsen the symptoms can help alleviate the stress on the tendon and promote healing. Switching from running and jumping to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling may be beneficial during the recovering period.
- Applying ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes several times per day can help reduce pain and inflammation. It is important to wrap the ice pack in a thin cloth to protect the skin and prevent frostbite.
- Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can also help reduce pain and inflammation. Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.
- Physical therapy can provide specific exercises to strengthen the calf muscles and improve flexibility. A physical therapist may also utilize techniques like ultrasound or extracorporeal shockwave therapy to promote healing. A qualified PT may recommend eccentric strengthening exercises for controlled lengthening of the Achilles tendon to improve its strength and promote healing.
- Wearing supportive shoes or orthotic inserts with proper cushioning and arch support can relieve stress on the Achilles tendon. In some cases, a hell lift of custom orthotic device may be recommended to provide additional support.
- Wearing a night splint or brace that keeps the foot and ankle in a slightly flexed position while sleeping can help reduce morning pain and stiffness.
Keep in mind that the severity of Achilles tendonitis can vary. More severe or chronic cases may require surgical intervention, especially if conservative treatments do not provide relief or if there is a tendon rupture.
While this information should help you understand more about Achilles tendonitis, it is very important that you consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan for any chronic pain conditions.
Contact Summit Spine & Joint Centers for Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis
If you are suffering from Achilles tendonitis, please feel free to call us at (770) 962-3642 to schedule an appointment to discuss your symptoms and determine the best pain management treatments. Your health and well-being of the utmost importance to us.
We have 25 convenient locations available in Georgia including our featured new location for Pain Management in Savannah, GA.