Don’t’ Let Pain Be Your Achilles Heel

Have you been experiencing pain in the back of your heel? If so, the cause might very well be Achilles Tendinitis. To give you a frame of reference, the Achilles tendon is the tough, thick band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Now that you know where it’s located, do you notice stiffness, swelling or pain in this tendon in the morning? Okay, now think about whether the pain in your heel worsens and the tendon become more swollen at the end of the day with activity? Or do you suffer severe pain the day after exercising? If you’re answering in the positive, then chances are that we’re indeed dealing with Achilles Tendinitis.

Hey, you’re not alone. After all, you use the Achilles tendon a lot – when you walk, run, climb stairs, jump and even stand on your tip toes. Pretty much all the time. It’s therefore no surprise that almost anyone with an active lifestyle can be prone to Achilles Tendinitis. That’s because the condition occurs with overuse and repetitive stress to the tendon, which can eventually result in degeneration. Just as a note, this condition is typically not related to a specific injury.

You might be still asking why, all of the sudden, are you experiencing these symptoms. After all, you haven’t had a major change in your lifestyle. Well, perhaps smaller changes you haven’t thought about are the culprit. For example, maybe you’ve increased the distance you run every day by a few miles without giving your body a chance to adjust. Yes, even those few miles count. Or perhaps you have tight calf muscles and didn’t realize that starting a more aggressive exercise program put extra stress on the Achilles tendon. You might even have a bone spur that’s rubbing against the tendon and causing pain.

Knowledge is power, so of course your best course of action is to see your clinician for a solid diagnosis. If it is Achilles Tendinitis, I would opt for conservative treatment first. For instance, we would start with plenty of rest – perhaps curtailing your exercise regimen for a while, along with applying ice to the area regularly. I might prescribe physical therapy and/or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as well. This is a good start and of course, we’d monitor your level of pain to determine adequate results.

If the pain does not improve after nonsurgical treatments, we would then consider one of several minimally invasive surgical procedures that bring very good results. First things first, though. Let’s see what’s going on, and move from there together. After all, living with pain is just not an option for you. For me either.

Vu Nguyen, DPM
DeLoor Podiatry Associates

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