Are you experiencing pain in the back of your heel, or just above it? If so, it’s a good bet that your Achilles tendon is involved.
The Achilles tendon is a very strong band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the back of the heel bone (calcaneus). Unfortunately, it’s not invincible: injuries to the Achilles tendon are among the most common sports injuries we see!
Whether you are an athlete or not, however, Achilles tendon pain is not something to ignore. We can provide effective treatment that can get you back to full strength as quickly and as safely as possible, greatly reducing your chances of reinjury.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Injury
You can’t talk about Achilles tendon pain without talking about Achilles tendinitis.
This condition includes the general inflammation and weakening of the Achilles tendon. In more severe cases, the tendon can reach a state where it can tear or fully rupture.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis can include:
- A tender pain in the very back of the heel, or just above it (usually where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone).
- Stiffness and pain in the morning that can be aggravated by walking or climbing stairs. This tends to recede as the tendon “warms up.”
- Pain that gradually worsens into long periods of activity, but will lessen with rest. However, pain can become worse the next day.
- Possible swelling or a “lump” felt in the back of the heel. Swelling tends to worsen throughout the day.
In cases where a tear or rupture is present, pain will typically be more severe, mobility and range of motion may be affected, and you may have heard a “popping” sound at the time of injury. Call us right away if this is the case!
What Causes Achilles Pain?
A painful Achilles is often the result of the tendon having been forced to endure more stress or strain than it is conditioned to withstand, leading to inflammation and damage.
This can happen in a variety of ways, but overuse injuries tend to be frequent. This may involve:
- A rapid increase in the intensity of your exercise or activities.
- Increasing the frequency or duration of exercise too much without providing your body enough rest time.
- Placing more focus on running up hills or stairs.
Additional factors that can play into an Achilles injury include improper footwear or an abnormal foot structure that shifts excess stress to the tendon.
Treatment for Achilles Tendon Pain
The best treatment for Achilles tendinitis and other related Achilles tendon problems requires more than just addressing the injury itself, but also the causes that may have led to it in the first place. That way, you can greatly reduce your risk of injury in the future.
We will always treat sports injuries such as these with conservative methods whenever possible. These may include:
- Traditional rest, icing, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy)
- Physical therapy (stretches and conditioning exercises)
- Custom orthotics
- Possible temporary immobilization in a cast or walking boot
- Medications for pain and inflammation
- Changes in footwear and exercise routines
If conservative treatments do not yield the results you need, or your case is particularly severe, we may consider surgery to repair the tendon, relieve pain, and/or restore mobility. We will fully discuss these options with you should they arise, and be sure to answer any questions you may have regarding what you should typically expect from a surgical procedure.
Take Care of Your Achilles
Your Achilles tendons do a lot of important work, so it’s important they receive the right treatment when they need it. You want to ensure they last well through your life!