Achilles tendinitis is a very common condition that causes pain behind the ankle. The Achilles tendon is the tendon that connects your calf muscles to your heel and allows you to run and jump. It is the largest tendon in the body, and it often has to endure loads up to several times your body weight. It most often affects young adults who are very active but can affect older individuals who suddenly increase their activity.
The degeneration and inflammation associated with repetitive overload of the Achilles tendon develops over a period of time. Like any injury, the pain is associated with increased blood flow to the area which accompanies inflammatory mediators. It is usually due to increased activity without proper calf muscle flexibility or adequate recovery time.
• Achilles tendon pain
• Achilles tendon swelling and/or thickening
• Pain that worsens with activity or the following day
• Pain improves with rest
Other diseases that can mimic Achilles tendinitis include:
• Bone spurs
• Muscle strain
In most cases, nonsurgical treatment options can result in complete resolution of you Achilles tendinitis. Although the treatment may take up to six months before you see any effectiveness.
The first step in treatment is activity modification. It is important to decrease your workouts and walking speed to decrease the stress across the Achilles tendon. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful to decrease the pain associated with inflammation, although they should not be taken for more than several weeks without consulting us. If these do not work, you may also try:
• Heel lift– Using shoes with a small heel can also temporarily decrease the strain on the Achilles tendon.
• Calf stretches– Place your hands on a stable wall and lean forward with one knee straight while your heel remains on the ground. Place the other leg in front with the knee bent. Then you push your hips toward
the wall keeping your heel on the ground. You hold the position for 10 seconds and relax feeling a stretch through the Achilles heel and calf
muscle. Repeat this 10 times.
• Heel drops– Stand at the edge of a stair with just the front half of your foot on the stair tread then slowly lower your heels to the lowest point
possible and hold for 10 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. Repeat this 10 times.