When you stop and think about the human body, we truly take a lot for granted. Our anatomy is an intricate working of so many moving parts. Our various systems—nervous, skeletal, muscular—keep us alive, mobile, and able to think and feel. With regard to mobility, your feet and ankles are crucial for moving you around. Your feet would not be much use with your Achilles tendon. This is why it is important to understand Achilles tendinitis, specifically how to recognize when you have this injury and what treatment methods exist.
The Achilles Tendon
The Achilles tendon, also sometimes referred to as the calcaneal tendon, is a band of fibrous tissue connecting the heel bone (calcaneus) with your calf muscle. It is the largest tendon in your body and used every time you walk, run, or jump. This tendon is able to withstand a tremendous amount of stress, but it can be prone to tendinitis when aggravated.
When you feel a mild ache above your heel or in the back of your lower leg after running or other athletic activity, you are likely experiencing this problem. When the tendon incurs overuse and degeneration, it often becomes inflamed. Inflammation is the body’s natural way of responding to injury or disease and this leads to pain, irritation, and swelling.
Just about anyone can develop a case of Achilles tendinitis, but there are certain factors that make it more likely for someone to sustain this injury than someone else. These factors include:
- Runners who decide to suddenly increase the duration or intensity of their workouts can aggravate the Achilles tendon.
- Middle-aged people who play weekend sports, like basketball or tennis, are more susceptible to endure an inflamed tendon. Whereas it can happen to either gender, it is more common for men.
- External factors, like cold weather and running on hilly terrain, can increase the likelihood of this injury.
- Flat feet, obesity, and tight calf muscles place more strain upon the Achilles tendon and make it more likely for tendinitis to develop.
Treating Achilles Tendinitis
Conservative, nonsurgical treatment is quite effective in dealing with this form of tendonitis. Your treatment plan will begin with simply resting and taking it easy to reduce the chance of greater injury. Icing the problem area will help reduce your swelling and pain. Over-the-counter medications can also be beneficial in relieving pain and inflammation.
If the home remedies do not help and the condition persists for longer than a week, make an appointment to see Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center. You may need advanced treatments like corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, or, in rare cases, surgery for severe problems.
Sometimes it is not entirely possible to prevent an injury from happening, and this applies here. What you can do, however, is decrease the risk even if you cannot completely eliminate it. Since this condition happens often when someone attempts too much too soon with regard to an exercise program or recreational sports league, start slowly when engaging in such activities. For a variety of reasons, it is best to gradually build up your intensity and duration.
Stretching and keeping your calf muscles and Achilles tendon flexible will help lower the risk of injury. Do so before and after exercise for optimal efficacy. In addition to stretching, strengthen your calf muscles so they, along with your Achilles tendon, are better equipped to handle stress from running and jumping.
Home remedies and prevention can be quite effective, but some cases need expert care and treatment. We hope that this won’t apply to you, but know that we are here for you if it does. We are Colorado’s leading experts in the field of podiatry and can help you with any foot or ankle ailment that causes pain or discomfort. To make an appointment with any of the Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center offices—Wheat Ridge, Evergreen, Granby, and Golden—simply call us at (303) 423-2520 or use our online form.