Achilles tendinitis usually only lasts for a couple of days. However, it is possible that you suddenly have a bad episode that lasts for months at a time. Treatment options vary and depend mainly on which tendon has been hurt, how bad the pain is, how long it has lasted and whether it is recurring.
Achilles Tendinitis Definition and Causes
Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon in the Achilles heel. This happens when the tendon is placed under unacceptable strain. The tendon joins the muscles of the calf to the bone of the heel, which is why it is so painful if there is some sort of problem there (it is for good reason that it is called the Achilles’s heel!). Interestingly, it is also our body’s largest tendon, and one of the strongest, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be injured.
Usually, Achilles tendinitis occurs when people take part in high impact, strenuous exercise. Running is the most common type. It is very important to not ignore it, because this could lead to the tendon rupturing or tearing. This is why seeking treatment is hugely important. However, not all Achilles heel pain is tendinitis, so don’t be too quick to diagnose yourself either.
Self-Care Relief of Achilles Tendinitis
There are various treatment options for Achilles tendinitis. These include:
• Rest. Simply stop what you were doing or at least reduce how much you were doing and support the tendon.
• Ice packs. These can help particularly if your tendon is starting to get swollen. Keep the ice pack on for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
• Painkillers. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen are generally the best ones. However, you do risk no longer realizing that the pain is there because your Achilles heel inflammation will be effectively masked.
• Supplements. There is some suggestion that supplements with amino acids can help with tendinitis symptoms, although this is not backed by scientific evidence.
Therapy for Achilles Tendinitis
There are also various types of therapy you can follow in order to relieve the symptoms of Achilles tendinitis. These include:
• Physiotherapy. This can help you stretch the area and make the tendons nice and soft again. Physiotherapy can include massage, ultrasound or laser.
• Corticosteroid injections. These offer good pain relief, but do not heal. Furthermore, they may increase the risk of the tendon fully rupturing later in life.
• Local anesthetic. This is generally only offered in very severe cases.
• Extracorporeal shock wave therapy, which is a last resort option. It is particularly used for Achilles tendinitis and tennis elbow. However, it is important to be aware of the associated risks, including pain, rupturing and sickness
• Surgery. Again, this is only used for certain types of tendinitis. There is also some suggestion that its efficacy is actually a placebo effect.
Once the tendinitis seems to improve, exercise for Achilles tendinitis will generally be prescribed. This will involve strengthening not just the tendon, but also the Achilles heel pad and the calf muscle in general. Full recovery, unfortunately, can take quite a long time.