Getting Help For Achilles Pain Tendonitis

Brian S. Winters, MD May 1st, 2015

Are you a middle-aged athlete who has been diagnosed with Achilles pain tendonitis? This condition, marked by inflammation and discomfort at the back of the ankle, is a fairly common overuse injury. However, early intervention and management can go a long way in minimizing the pain and further injury this condition can lead to. At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, our Foot and Ankle Team can help you get back on your feet through expert diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of Achilles tendonitis. 

What Is Achilles Pain Tendonitis? 
To best understand what is going on during Achilles pain tendonitis you should begin by seeking a better understanding of the makeup of the ankle. A tendon is a fibrous band of tissue which connects muscle or bone. The Achilles tendon, located behind the ankle, connects the heel of the foot to the calf muscles. This connective band is responsible for your ability to push off the ankle, especially during running or jumping motions. 
Tendonitis refers to the inflammation, or swelling and irritation, of a tendon. During Achilles tendonitis, the Achilles tendon may begin with some inflammation which, if left untreated, tends to lead to pain and swelling. Typically, these symptoms will worsen when the tendon is engaged in physical activities like walking or running. Persistent inflammation of this tendon can also lead to a series of tears within the tendon, which leaves you susceptible to an Achilles tendon rupture. Thus, although a diagnosis of Achilles tendonitis is not a cause for panic, early treatment and consistent management is a must. 
What Causes This Condition? 
Achilles pain tendonitis is a common overuse injury, especially among middle-aged recreational athletes. In part, this is because the Achilles tendon tends to weaken with age. Even intermittent use of the tendon without proper stretching, such as a sudden run on the weekends, can lead to inflammation. 
Although overuse during athletic activity may be the most common cause of this condition, there are a number of other factors that can increase your strain risk on your Achilles tendon, including improper footwear, a naturally flat arch in your foot, or certain medical conditions like diabetes. If you are concerned that you may be at risk for Achilles tendonitis, talk with your doctor about preventative actions you can take. 
How Is Achilles Tendonitis Treated?
Ideally, the best way to address Achilles tendonitis is prevention. Stretching regularly, and especially prior to exercise, can help to promote the ankle flexibility you need to avoid inflammation. Additionally, making sure that you consistently wear proper footwear and any necessary supports, such as heel cups or arch supports, can also help. 
If Achilles pain tendonitis does develop, though, there are a variety of nonoperative treatments available to you. Rest can help to relieve symptoms and allow for swelling to subside and healing to begin. Immobilization can be a more effective approach when symptoms are more severe; for this, a walking boot may be appropriate. Ice, applied to the area of swelling, can help to stimulate blood flow and relieve pain. Anti-Inflammatory Medications can also help to reduce the pain and swelling of Achilles tendonitis. Finally, Physical Therapy can help you form a proper stretching and rehabilitation routine. 
If you have experienced the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, it is important to talk with a doctor before starting any of the above treatments. In certain, recurring and severe cases of Achilles pain tendonitis, surgical approaches are also an option. 
Where Can I Find Expert Help? 
If you are experiencing Achilles tendonitis, or believe that you may have this condition, it is important to talk to a doctor quickly. At Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, you will find some of the most experienced Foot and Ankle specialists in the Tri-State area. For more information, or to make an appointment, contact Rothman Orthopaedic Institute today at 1.800.321.9999.

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