The Achilles tendon is one of the most frequently injured body parts among athletes. It’s a tendon that runs from the heel bone up to the calf muscle to help the foot push off the ground when the calf muscle tightens. You can’t walk, run or jump without it, so any injury to the Achilles tendon is usually a sideliner.
When this vital tendon becomes inflamed we call it Achilles tendonitis, which usually occurs where the tendon meets the heel but it can also spread up toward the calf muscle. Along with the inflammation comes swelling and pain, and it can worsen quickly and even turn into more serious conditions if you it isn’t treated.
Achilles tendonitis can be caused by several different problems, many of which have to do with sports and exercise like repetitive stress, direct injury, not stretching enough or improper training techniques. But there can also be physical causes such as an Achilles tendon that is too short, deformities in the heel bone and over-pronation (when the feet roll inward when you walk).
If you love to wear shoes that don’t properly support the foot and heel, they could actually cause Achilles tendonitis, too. (Sorry ladies, four-inch spike heels are not a good idea.) It’s always a good idea to immediately stop wearing the shoes you had on when your Achilles tendon first started hurting, at least until you can see a doctor.
We treat Achilles tendonitis by first reducing the inflammation and pain, then strengthening the tendon while providing the proper support. This might be done through orthotics or just better shoes. We’ll also show you some special stretches you can do to relax the calf muscle and reduce pressure on the Achilles tendon. We might also recommend physical therapy or applying ice.
Surgery is only an option when it progresses into Achilles teninosis, and even then, it’s only in extreme cases.
If you are experiencing any pain above the heel when your foot pushes off the ground, call us for an appointment right away. Achilles tendonitis will usually not heal on its own, and can become much worse very quickly if it’s not treated.