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.
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.
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!
Bandage Those Ankles
Support Those Heels!
How To Treat Achilles Tendinitis
- 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.
- 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.
- Take anti inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin or Aspirin based pain killers.
- You may have to have your foot placed in a cast, but usually a tight stretchy bandage will suffice.
- Steroid injections will be given if the tendon doesn't heal.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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