Achilles Tendon Pain: Causes, Treatments & Prevention

With every step you take, your Achilles tendon takes a beating. If you’re a runner or walk a lot, in particular, all of the weight and force of your body that keeps coming down on your Achilles can add up. Damage to the Achilles tendon from overuse and strain can lead to excruciating and debilitating pain and significantly impact your quality of life. Fortunately, this condition, called Achilles tendonitis, can be treated effectively and there are things you can do to minimize the pain and discomfort it causes

Achilles Tendonitis: The Cause of Your Pain

The largest tendon in the body, your Achilles tendon connects the back of your lower calf muscles to your foot along the back side of your ankle and provides the needed power to push off when you run or walk.

People who develop Achilles tendonitis, also called Achilles tendinothapy, usually do so because of overuse and a corresponding failure to give the tendon much needed time to recover after all the strain it experiences. Other factors that can exacerbate the condition include poorly fitting footwear, soft running surfaces, or running or walking uphill for extended periods.

Achilles tendon damage is also associated with poor range of motion in the ankles, excessive pronation, and weak calf muscles. And, as with so many other conditions, we become much more prone to damaging the fibers in the tendon as we get older.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis

Common Achilles tendonitis symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the tendon when you wake up
  • Pain and discomfort along the tendon or back of the heel that gets more intense with continuing activity
  • Severe tendon pain on the day after you exercise strenuously
  • Thickening of the tendon
  • Bone spurs (insertional tendinitis)
  • Pervasive swelling that gets worse throughout the day with activity

Treating Achilles Tendonitis

Fortunately, most cases of Achilles tendonitis can be treated simply and effectively. To reduce swelling and pain and help your tendons recover from trauma and overuse, consider these useful tips from RunnersConnect magazine:

  • Eccentric heel drops
  • Ice your tendons after each time you run
  • Heat your tendons with warm water or a heating pack before each run
  • Contrast bath during the day – take two small buckets/trash cans and fill one with hot (hot bath temp) water and the other with ice water (cold enough so some ice still doesn’t melt) and put your whole leg (up to the calf) in the cold. Hold for 5 minutes and then switch to the hot for 5 minutes. Repeat 2 or 3 times, ending with cold. This helps rush blood in and out of the area, which facilitates healing
  • Avoid anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or ibuprofen
  • Avoid excessive stretching – only very light, easy stretching until healed
  • Massage your calves with a foam roller
  • Switch to more supportive or traditional running shoes (higher heels) during your runs and while walking around until your pain is completely gone, and avoid flats and high heels
  • Perform ankle strengthening and mobility exercises.

More severe and acute Achilles injuries may require professional treatment. Your podiatrist may recommend prescription steroid injections such as cortisone, and if your pain persists for more than six months after exhausting all non-surgical options, exercises, surgery may be the best option to fully repair the tendon.

Achilles Tendon Pain? Call Us Today!

If you are dealing with pain, swelling, or other issues with your Achilles tendon, the experienced and caring podiatrists at JAWSpodiatry can help. Located in Hollywood, Florida, we employ the most advanced and non-invasive techniques to reduce foot and ankle pain and speed recovery. Please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.