Like the proverbial lion with a thorn in its paw, nothing can knock you off your feet and keep you from the activity that is so important to you faster than a bout of Achilles tendinitis. If you are a runner or a weekend basketball player, you are at risk of developing this overuse injury, and if you don’t seek early intervention, it could become a much bigger problem. At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our foot and ankle tendinitis doctors can diagnose and treat Achilles tendinitis and get you back in the game.
Who’s at Risk for Developing Achilles Tendinitis?
Anyone reasonably active can develop Achilles tendinitis, especially as they get older. People who only exercise sporadically, suddenly ramp up the intensity of their workout, or start training for a race are at increased risk of an Achilles tendon injury. Factors that increase your risk include your:
- Sex. Achilles tendinitis is more common in men than women.
- Age. As the structure of your Achilles tendon weakens with age, you are more susceptible to straining or tearing it.
- Shoes. Wearing worn-out shoes with little arch support can put more pressure on the Achilles tendon, causing injury.
- Foot structure. Having flat feet or a fallen arch puts strain on the tendon that can cause it to stretch or tear.
- Weight. Runners who are overweight also put more pressure on the Achilles tendon. Heavier runners often experience Achilles tendinitis.
- Training choices. Running on hilly terrain or in cold weather increases the likelihood of an Achilles injury. Not warming up before a run can also strain the tendon unnecessarily.
- Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and psoriasis, put you at a higher risk for tendinitis. In addition, taking certain antibiotics has been associated with higher rates of Achilles tendinitis.
Having one or more of these factors does not mean you should give up on an activity altogether, but it does mean that you should take precautions to avoid a severe injury.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Tendinitis is a short-term inflammation of the tendon, and it is the first sign of Achilles tendon problems. It should not be ignored because it could develop into Achilles tendinosis—a chronic condition involving microscopic tears. Tears can progress to a rupture of the Achilles tendon, an extremely painful injury that requires casting, immobilization, and possibly even surgical repair.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include:
- Aching, tenderness, and swelling in the area above the heel
- Pain during and after activity and stiffness the day after
- Tight calf muscles
- Weakness in the leg
- Limited range of motion when flexing the foot
- Difficulty standing on your toes
- Tenderness or stiffness first thing in the morning that improves throughout the day
If you suspect Achilles tendinitis, you can take conservative measures to treat it at home before it becomes a significant problem.
Treatments for Achilles Tendinitis
If you start home treatment as soon as you begin to experience Achilles tendon pain and stiffness, you might be able to prevent a chronic condition. Reducing activity, resting and elevating your foot, icing the area, and taking an anti-inflammatory are easy steps you can take. If the problem gets worse, you should schedule an appointment with one of our foot and ankle specialists, who will consider treatments such as:
- A stretching routine to loosen up the tendon
- Wearing a brace or walking boot to prevent heel movement
- Physical therapy
- Wearing special shoes to take pressure off the tendon
- Shockwave therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma injections
Our team will assess your injury and start with the most conservative treatments. Our goal is your goal—to get you back to the activities you love as quickly as possible.
Call Us to Get Help With Achilles Tendinitis
We understand how frustrating it can be to struggle with Achilles tendon pain, especially when you are an active person. Our board-certified physicians are available in our state-of-the-art facilities throughout the greater Portland area to help you get back on your feet. To schedule an appointment with the Northwest Extremity Specialists, call your nearest office today or drop us a line using our online contact form.