Of the roughly 4,000 or so tendons in the human body, the Achilles is the strongest and toughest. But it also has to deal with the greatest amount of pressure and stress, and repetitive overuse can lead to difficulty.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Pain typically starts with a dull or mild ache, located just above the heel in the back of the leg, but can get worse over time. Pain may spike after (not during) elevated levels of activity (sometimes even a day later) and then subside again. Feelings of tenderness or stiffness may also be present.
Causes and Risk Factors
The primary cause of most cases of Achilles tendinitis is overuse—or in other words, too much stress and pressure on the tendon in too short a timeframe, without giving it time to rest and heal.
Anybody can get Achilles tendinitis, but certain people are more susceptible. The typical profile of an Achilles tendonitis sufferer is an active middle-aged or older man, particularly the “weekend warrior.” Tendons tend to weaken with age, so these bursts of activity are more likely to cause trouble in your 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Certain factors can also increase your risk. Naturally flat feet or tight calf muscles are linked to a higher risk due to the additional strain they can place on the tendon. Your training decisions can also have an impact—running in poor quality shoes on hilly terrain, for example.
Treating Cases of Achilles Tendinitis
Fortunately, most Achilles tendinitis episodes can be managed through the use of conservative care, sometimes even self-care completed at home. When you feel the pain, remember RICE: rest the aching tendon by avoiding strenuous activity for a time, and use a combination of ice, compression and elevation to ease swelling and discomfort.
If self-care isn’t cutting it, we’ll help you develop a more robust treatment program. Stretches, exercises, and physical therapy may be prescribed to help loosen tight structures and improve the strength of supporting muscles—which in turn helps soften the stress of impacts. If a structural problem, such as flat feet, is identified as a contributing factor, a good pair of custom orthotics can help support your feet and tendons while you remain active.
Our office also provides the latest and most effective diagnostic tools and state-of-the-art treatment methods for those that need it. Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, or ESWT, is one of the most successful such treatments for those who qualify. This non-invasive procedure uses waves of energy to stimulate vascular development, relieving pain, reducing swelling, and accelerating the pace of healing. Other advanced treatments include platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, amniotic tissue treatments, and ultrasound signal treatments (Tenex).
Surgical tendon repair is also an option for the most severe cases, when conservative care and more advanced, minimally invasive techniques have not proven successful. However, such instances are rare.
Dr. Corey Fox and the team at Massapequa Podiatry Associates and Long Island Heel Pain are unsurpassed in the treatment of heel pain conditions such Achilles tendinitis. Our commitment to providing the highest quality patient care from start to finish, our years of experience, and our investment in state-of-the-art tools and cutting-edge research will give you the best possible chance to get back on your feet, even if past treatments from other doctors have failed. Give us a call to see what we can do for you! Dial 516-541-9000, or request an appointment by filling out our online contact form today.