What Is Achilles Tendinitis? Prevention And Treatment

Pain In The Achilles Heel

Most of us at some stage in our lives will experience pain in the lower leg. It usually starts after a period of exercise such as jogging or working out in the gym. You know the feeling, you suddenly have to stop running and lean down to give your leg a quick rub hoping that the pain will go away. Sometimes it can start off with cramp, and after a few moments start to go away, but leave behind a feeling of tightness or pain on the back of your ankle.

By the time you get home, you will find that your ankle and leg calf have stiffened up. Its only when you get up in the morning and try to put your feet to the floor, will you find out that you have actually damaged your calf and your Achilles Tendon.

This can be really painful. The sensation can feel like burning, piercing or shooting up and down your leg. When you walk on it, you will find that it will ease slightly as the day wears on, but by the time you go back to bed it will have stiffened up again, and you will have to take pain killers to get a good nights sleep.


Achilles Tendon scienceblogs.com
Achilles Tendon scienceblogs.com
 Fluid bump on the Achilles Tendon londonfootandanklecentre.co.uk
Fluid bump on the Achilles Tendon londonfootandanklecentre.co.uk

Achilles Tendinitis

So, what is Achilles Tendinitis? Well, the Achilles tendon is a large tendon that joins with something called the soleus muscle and the gastrocnemius. Bit of a mouthful, but in a nutshell what that means is two muscles, one thick the other thin that join with the Achilles tendon just behind the back of the ankle. When the Achilles tendon starts to degenerate, tears or gets inflamed that's what is called Tendinitis.

Sufferers of achilles tendinitis not only have to put up with pain, but their foot can actually drop slightly so as to cause a dragging of the foot. Imagine a large piece of elastic coming away from the muscle. This is a pretty accurate description.

Another sign is that you may notice a small bump, this is a sack of fluid that has developed around the swollen tendon.

High Heels are a not a good idea! heelsforyou.com
High Heels are a not a good idea! heelsforyou.com

What Else Can Cause It?

A number of things can cause this problem. Mainly exercise, but there are other foot problems that can cause strain to this part of your body. Sometimes the arch of your foot can drop, and to compensate for this, the foot begins to roll inwards when walking, putting a strain on the Achilles tendon.

And ladies, take heed! One of the main causes of Achilles tendon is the fact that a lot of women always wear high heels. This causes the tendon to shrink over time, so when you suddenly decide to wear low heels, or take up jogging, you are not only putting a strain on the heel, but you are in fact stretching the Achilles tendon completely out of its comfort zone! So it's a good idea to make sure that you always take off your heels when at home or after work to give your tendon a chance to spring back into its normal size.

Obviously there are other reasons too. Certain illnesses can cause it to happen such as Arthiritis and gout. But a lot of people do not warm up sufficiently when getting ready to exercise. This will cause it to stretch and either break or pull away from the muscle. Ouch!


How To Treat Achilles Tendinitis

  1. Place ice around your lower leg for at least 15 to 20 minutes three of four times a day. Do this as soon as possible, to help stop the damage spreading.
  2. All depending on how much pain or damage you think you may have, always consult a Doctor to see if you have snapped the tendon completely. If you have, you may have to have surgery. This is only if you have really damaged part of the tendon, and the Doctors will remove the damaged part. If the tendon has torn away from the muscle, they will re-attach it back on to the muscle.
  3. Take anti inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin or Aspirin based pain killers.
  4. You may have to have your foot placed in a cast, but usually a tight stretchy bandage will suffice.
  5. Steroid injections will be given if the tendon doesn't heal.
  6. Along with bandages, you may be advised to use shoe inserts to lift your foot, and in some case a heel lift can help the tendon to gently heal so you can go back to work.
  7. This one may be obvious, but resting is probably the best thing you can do. If this isn't possible, then gentle walking should be okay as long as you are careful.
  8. Once your heel starts to get better, make sure that you don't start exercising too quickly. If you feel that you need to keep exercising, then swimming is great because it is gentle on your foot, but can also help to rebuild the muscles without strain.

Achilles Tendinitis is not something that will go away quickly. It usually takes anywhere between 6 to 12 weeks before your calf and heel will be totally better. So do not think just because the pain has gone you are better, this is the time to be careful. You do not want to strain it again, so take it easy and make sure you continue to follow the steps above.

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Comments 21 comments

My Minds Eye53 profile image

My Minds Eye53 4 years ago from Tennessee

I have a friend who tore his Achilles heel because he was hiking and got dehydrated. That was at least 20 years ago and he still has problems with it.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

I had both my Achilles tendons injured before. The first time was me being silly...I loved to dive unto my bed by standing at the foo of the bed and diving as if I am diving into a pool...so silly. That evening as I dove unto my bed I felt the snap but didn't feel any pain until morning when I tried to stand. It was the most excruciating pain. My grandfather made the turmeric and custard apple leaves poultice (I have a hub about it), and i a couple of days I was walking good again.

The other time was during training and I had to have it strapped and got meds.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, My Minds, sounds really painful, I would imagine that he never got it healed properly when it happened, maybe he still needs an op? thanks for reading, cheers nell


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Cardisa, what a great idea that your grandfather had! anything that helps the pain and makes it heal is fantastic, sorry about the other time too, sounds like you have the same sort of weak ankles like me! lol!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Great hub! As a runner, I have had achilles pain and it can be awful. Another tip is to work with a physical therapist (recommended by your doctor) to get exercises and stretches to both help and prevent future flare-ups. Rated up! Steph


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, steph, thanks for reading, yes of course I had forgotten that you run, this must be a real pain for you sometimes, I am glad you found it helpful, thanks!


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

Oh my, I have had this too, unbearable! I bought me a new bike and I am going to start riding soon to strengthen my legs up again. My calves have always been rock hard until the last couple years and it is time to do something about it! I walked all day at Fort Dobbs today, and boy am I out of shape!


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 4 years ago from California

Ah, so that might be what is bothering me! Although I have never worn high high heels, I tend to hold tension in my feet, scrunch them up when I am nervous (weird).

Most informative Hub Nell! Thanks for sharing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Polly, good luck with the bike, I know what you mean about being out of shape! lol! I usually do lots of exercise but so far this year its zero! thanks as always, nell

Hi, Chatkath, yes that sounds like you could have pulled the tendon, glad it helped, thanks!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for the useful information, Nell. After I run my knees sometimes hurt, but up to now my Achilles tendons have always been okay. There's always a first time for a tendon injury, though! I'll remember your advice if it happens to me.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, Alicia, glad you found it helpful, and good luck and be careful! lol! cheers nell


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Hello Nell Rose, my brother in law got his achilles tendon snapped in a basketball game. It took him down, unable to walk. My sister said she never heard him like that in pain, and he had to get surgery. It sounded so awful. The one photo above reminded me of it. The way the doctor described it, is what that looks like.

I like your hub, for the treatments but especially for the preventative measures people can take. I hope to never have to deal with this. Great hub.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, ocean, that sounds so painful, sport can be so hard on the achilles tendon, I am glad you brother got it sorted out, and I hope he doesn't have any problems now, thanks so much for reading, cheers nell


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Hi Nell Rose, I should mention that he is doing much better now. I think his doctor told him that it just sometimes happens with guys his age that are active. I think he is in his mid to late forties. He is doing much better now.

I notice that as I get older and keep observing things going on around me, that its good to try to take good care of ourselves, so that we can prevent some different things down the road. I have always known that is smart, but never thought about it so much. Prevention is so important.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, glad to hear he's better, it must have been so painful! I agree with you on the taking care of ourselves, I keep forgetting I am getting on a bit now! lol! and rush around, but of course we should take care, thanks again, nell


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I've been exercising vigorously for two years now and have been lucky enough to experience this problem. One way to prevent the problem is by properly warming up. But thanks for the advice on what to do if it does happen. Voting this Up and Useful.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England Author

Hi, alocsin, it is so painful! lol! I haven't actually split my tendon but twisted it badly, whew! never again! thanks as always, nell


Marcy 3 years ago

I have been in a cast for 3 weeks right blew the knee. Some days it feels better than others. Is that normal. It still swells a lot, especially if I am on my feet a lot. I have started to feel a lot of burning is this normal.

Email me directly with any information you have.

Thank you in advance.

Marcy

Smilef@aol.com


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England Author

Hi Marcy, I don't like to give out my email sorry, but it does seem to me that you are still early days yet. The best advice I can give is to try and keep off your leg as much as possible, the swelling is telling you that you are working it too hard too early. The burning I am not sure about, but it sounds like you are straining the muscles too much, I am not a GP so its best to go and get it checked out professionally, it may be something to do with the cast being too tight, or something a bit more serious, okay? go check it out, at the least it may just be irritation, thanks for reading, nell


Moonmaiden profile image

Moonmaiden 2 years ago from Lucerne Valley, CA

Thank you. I've been dealing with this for a few years now. Some days it doesn't bother me at all, and other times I hate getting out of bed in the morning.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England Author

Hi Moonmaiden, sorry to hear you are having this problem, my partner is suffering with it too, its also hurting his back because of the way he has to walk, its a nightmare! thanks so much for reading, nell

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