Is Your Achilles Heel Weighing You Down? Achilles tendon pain (achilles tendonitis or achilles tendonosis) has many people asking us what they can do and what treatments will help them. Below are some signs and symptoms of achilles tendonitis and treatment ideas for what you can do to get relief.
Achilles tendonitis is one of the most common diagnosis we treat and is common in active individuals and especially people who run. This injury happens from overuse and a combination of muscle imbalances. Continued strenuous activity such as running and jumping can cause this tendon to become inflamed and painful. Many find themselves having to rest more frequently between runs or even stop running all together. Eventually activities like hiking or even just walking can cause the pain. If this is you, keep reading below for some tips on how to relieve this nagging pain and learn the best method of treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis (or tendonosis)
- swelling (warmth) at the back of the heel
- tight/tender lower calf muscle
- decreased range of motion in the ankle
- pain where the achilles tendon meets the heel bone or in the middle of the tendon
1.) A diagnosis of achilles tendonitis can come from either a physical therapist or a physician. They will ask about your signs and symptoms and check your strength and range of motion. If you see a physician you will likely be referred to an Orthopedist who can make the diagnosis. Orthopedist’s will generally refer to a physical therapist for the rehabilitation needed to get you back to what you need to do. A physical therapist will give you an exam, make the diagnosis, and start treatment during the same day. If you were to need imaging if either a orthopedist or a physical therapist thought surgery was needed either would refer you for an MRI. These cases are very rare and you would likely have extreme difficulty walking and lack of strength if you had a tear. You would also likely know something was very wrong the second after the injury. If you have had the pain for a while it is unlikely you would need surgery and a rehab consultation with either a orthopedist or physical therapist would be the best place to start.
2.) X-rays or MRI can be utilized to determine if the tendon is intact or if there is a fracture. Keep in mind that although these can diagnose a problem, they cannot fix the problem, or get to the source of the cause. Xrays and MRI’s would tell you the victim but not the culprit. The only way to find out the cause of the injury is from an examination that can occur from a hands on professional.
The first step in the treatment process is to decrease the pain and determine the cause of the injury. Most people have already tried over the counter medications (anti-inflammatories), creams, ice, and possibly even received injections. These options may reduce pain and inflammation for a short time, but won’t fix the root cause of the problem and therapy is usually suggested. This would include strengthen weak areas, improving ankle mobility, correcting muscle imbalances, and working on stability throughout the upper chain (knees and hips) to prevent reoccurrence of injury. For runners technique management may be necessary for a short period of time. Every individual is different and will require different specifics addressed so it’s important to not try cookie cutter programs and instead get help on your specific problems. One thing that is frequently used (if you want it, there are other ways to accomplish the same thing) is dry needling and it could potentially help in the calf muscles to release any tension and improve range of motion and function to help return to activity faster.
Getting in to see a specialist as soon as possible is key. The longer you wait it out the worse this injury can get and the longer you will continue to be side lined from the activities you love. Getting help will avoid the constant agony and annoyance of chasing your pain rather than attacking it head on!
Don’t wait for the pain to get any worse – make the decision to get help, right now and click the button below or email us about your specific issues and what you want to get back to at firstname.lastname@example.org