It’s vital to treat Achilles tendon pain so you can walk in comfort, and avoid further injuries. After all, up to 10% of all running injuries are related to the Achilles tendon. And that’s a significant number. But why is that the case? What causes Achilles tendon pain, and how can we treat the cause and symptoms to help you find relief? And to keep your pain from returning? Keep reading to find out!
What Causes Achilles Tendon Pain?
Achilles pain is especially problematic, because this tendon is a vital structure that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. This pain typically occurs due to overuse, strain or injury. It’s often associated with physical activities like running or jumping.
The tendon’s strength and flexibility are remarkable. But, it’s also very vulnerable to injury due to its limited blood supply and high tension levels. Overuse, abrupt increases in activity, wearing high heels, can all constrain and inflame the tendon, leading to Achilles tendinitis. Conversely, a sudden forceful stretch can cause it to partially or completely tear, an injury known as a rupture.
As we just mentioned, one of the most common causes of Achilles tendon pain is overuse, often resulting from activities that put excessive strain on the tendon, like running or jumping. Another cause is Achilles tendinopathy, a degenerative disease that causes the tendon to become weak and prone to injury. Age, certain medical conditions, obesity and wearing improper footwear can also contribute to Achilles tendon pain. Understanding these causes can help guide your treatment decisions and prevent future problems. But before you can effectively treat Achilles tendon pain, it’s crucial to identify the signs and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
If you’re still reading this post, it’s likely because you’ve experienced the telltale signs of Achilles tendon pain. These include sharp, severe pain just above the back of the heel or in the lower calf, especially when walking or running. When the pain is persistent, that can indicate a problem with your Achilles tendon. It’s important to recognize these symptoms early.
Additional warning signs include heel pain, stiffness or swelling around the tendon, along with difficulty walking. The pain can be severe right after waking up, and may decrease with mild intensity. But it may intensify again with more strenuous activity.
Difficulty in pointing your toes and climbing stairs are other common symptoms. If you notice a sudden pop in the back of your calf or heel, it can indicate a ruptured Achilles tendon, which requires immediate medical attention. Some people describe a complete rupture of the tendon feeling as if someone kicked them in the back of their legs. If you have any of these symptoms, reach out to our Houston podiatrist right away. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more serious injury. But recognizing these signs early on allows for prompt treatment, potentially preventing further injury to your Achilles tendon. If you’re experiencing persistent or worsening symptoms of Achilles tendon pain, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.
You shouldn’t ignore signs such as intense pain or swelling in the back of your heel, difficulty walking, or a popping sound at the time of injury. These can indicate a torn or ruptured Achilles tendon, a serious condition that often requires surgery. Even if your symptoms seem mild, don’t presume they’ll disappear on their own. Pain or stiffness that worsens with activity or an inability to flex your foot and stand on your toes necessitates a visit to the doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent further injury, speed your recovery and help avoid long term problems.
When to Treat Achilles Tendon Pain
When you first notice pain in your Achilles tendon, immediate home care can be beneficial. To alleviate Achilles tendon pain, it’s crucial that you initiate your treatment with rest and regular ice applications at home. Rest allows your body to naturally heal damaged tissue, reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
Refrain from activities that put stress on your Achilles tendon, even if it means needing to adjust your routine. As for icing, it’s an effective method for controlling swelling and reducing inflammation. Apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours during the first two days of symptoms. Just remember not to apply ice directly to your skin. Instead, use a towel as a barrier.
Now, we know that this regimen may seem basic. But it’s fundamental and essential step in addressing Achilles tendon pain. While resting and applying ice can greatly help reduce inflammation and pain, incorporating over the counter pain relievers into your initial home care strategy can also be beneficial. These non-prescription drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). They can effectively manage your pain or reduce inflammation.
Next Levels Steps in Treating Achilles Tendon Pain
As you progress in your recovery, a key component of relieving Achilles tendon pain involves stretching or strengthening exercises. Incorporating gentle stretching techniques into your daily routine can significantly alleviate pain in the Achilles tendon.
For starters, try the calf stretch. Stand arms' length from the wall, place your hands on the wall, and extend one foot back, keeping your knee straight and one heel firmly on the ground. Then, bend your other knee and lean towards the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Next, try the seated towel stretch. Sit with your legs extended, loop a towel around your affected foot and gently pull the towel towards you, keeping your knee straight. Repeat this move three times a day. Then, building on your stretching routine, it’s essential to incorporate strengthening exercises that focus on your calf and ankle, fortifying your Achilles tendon over time.
Strength Moves to Overcome Tendon Pain
One effective exercise to stop Achilles tendon pain is the one-legged stand. When you stand on one leg, you will naturally feel yourself wobble. Now, try to stop the wobble. This isometric exercise strengthens all the muscles and tendons in surrounding the ankle.
You can also try resistance band exercises. Sit with your leg outstretched, loop a band around your foot, and gently push against the resistance. Perform this in all four directions—left, right, up and down. Incorporating these exercises into your routine will not only strengthen he supporting muscles, but it will also reduce the strain on your Achilles tendon, helping to alleviate your pain.
Achilles Tendon Pain Relief in Houston, TX
When you treat Achilles tendon pain at home in the early stages of a problem, you can often alleviate discomfort effectively. But if your pain persists, it’s time to make an appointment in the office. After seeing you, we can evaluate the cause of your injury and develop a treatment plan to relieve pain and prevent further complications.