Achilles Tendonitis: That Pain in Your Heel
Running and sports are a great way to stay active and stave off health problems like heart disease, but along with the benefits there are risks. The more you run, jump, or move quickly from side to side, the better chance you have of developing a foot or ankle injury. When the problem is located at the back of the heel or ankle, it’s possible that you have damaged your Achilles tendon.
Why Does the Back of My Heel Hurt?
The Achilles is one of the strongest tendons in your body, but it also takes a lot of abuse because all your weight bears down on it with every step you take. When the tendon that connects your heel bone to your calf muscles becomes inflamed, you have a condition known as Achilles tendonitis. Inflammation is your body’s way of rushing help to the affected area, but it often results in pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the surrounding tissue. Repeated stress on the Achilles tendon can cause it to degenerate, or become stretched or torn. This can happen if you increase the intensity of your exercise too quickly, or if you don’t stretch out your tight calf muscles adequately before a vigorous workout. Bone spurs that form on your heel can also rub against the tendon and irritate it.
What to Look For
Morning pain in the back of your heel, or discomfort the day after a heavy exercise session can give you a clue--especially if it gets worse when you resume activity. If you notice swelling at the back of your heel that doesn’t go away or gets worse, or the tendon seems thicker when you pinch it between your fingers, it’s time to seek help. If you ever hear a pop while you are exercising, you should contact The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic right away as it is possible you have ruptured the tendon.
How Is Achilles Tendonitis Treated?
Once we evaluate the extent of your injury, we will recommend the best treatment for your situation. Mild cases may respond well to home remedies like rest, elevation, and icing to reduce the pain and swelling. We may also recommend anti-inflammatory pain relievers, or a cortisone injection to relieve pain. Our expert staff can show you exercises, or prescribe physical therapy that will help loosen or strengthen muscles in your calves and feet. Special shoes and orthotics can help correct problems with your foot structure and gait that are contributing to the stress on the Achilles. In case of a torn tendon, surgery may be needed to repair it. No matter what the treatment, the longer you wait to address your condition, the longer it may take for it to heal. It is not uncommon for the healing process to take 3 - 6 months.
Dr. Howard Schaengold specializes in sports medicine and provides expert care for your Achilles problem. If you suspect you have Achilles tendonitis, give the office in Sammamish, WA a call at (425) 868-3338, or use the “Book an Appointment” button online. We also serve the areas of Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond.