Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a condition where the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed and painful. It leads to symptoms such as heel pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the ankle.

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Achilles Tendonitis
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Your Guide to Understanding Achilles Tendonitis

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which is the thick band of tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is often caused by repetitive strain or overuse of the tendon, leading to irritation and subsequent inflammation.

The Achilles tendon plays a vital role in allowing us to walk, run, and jump by facilitating the movement of the foot and ankle. However, when the tendon experiences excessive stress or repetitive microtrauma, it can result in tiny tears in the tendon fibers, leading to inflammation and pain. This typically occurs due to activities that involve excessive running, jumping, sudden increases in intensity or duration of exercise, or inadequate warm-up and stretching routines.

Individuals with Achilles tendonitis may experience symptoms such as pain and stiffness in the back of the ankle, especially during physical activity or when waking up in the morning. The pain may worsen with prolonged periods of walking, running, or climbing stairs. Swelling and tenderness along the tendon may also be present.

Treatment for Achilles tendonitis aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. Initially, the R.I.C.E. method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) can be employed to manage symptoms. This involves resting the affected leg, applying ice packs to the area, using compression bandages, and elevating the leg to reduce swelling.

In addition to the R.I.C.E. method, physical therapy exercises and stretching are often recommended to strengthen the calf muscles and improve flexibility. Eccentric exercises, which involve lengthening the calf muscles while under tension, have shown to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. These exercises help to improve tendon strength, promote healing, and prevent future injury.

It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect Achilles tendonitis, as severe cases may require more advanced treatments such as immobilization with a brace or boot, corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation, or, in rare cases, surgical intervention.

How can Chiropractic help treat Achilles Tendonitis?

Chiropractic services offer a multimodal approach to alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with Achilles tendonitis. Through a combination of manual adjustments, soft tissue manipulation, and specialized therapies, chiropractors aim to reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation, and enhance healing in the affected area.

They may also utilize techniques like kinesiotaping to provide support and stability to the Achilles tendon. By addressing the underlying causes of Achilles tendonitis and promoting overall musculoskeletal health, chiropractic care can help individuals find relief from pain, improve mobility, and enhance their recovery from this condition.

What causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is typically caused by repetitive strain or overuse of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. The condition often occurs when the tendon is subjected to excessive stress or repetitive microtrauma, leading to irritation and inflammation.

Several factors can contribute to the development of Achilles tendonitis. One common cause is engaging in activities that place a lot of strain on the tendon, such as running or jumping. Doing these activities without proper conditioning, sudden increases in intensity or duration of exercise, or inadequate warm-up and stretching routines can all contribute to the development of tendonitis.

Other factors that can increase the risk of Achilles tendonitis include having tight calf muscles or weak lower leg muscles, wearing improper footwear, having poor foot mechanics, or experiencing sudden changes in training surfaces. These factors can place additional stress on the tendon and make it more susceptible to injury and inflammation.

It's important to be aware of these contributing factors and take preventive measures. Gradually increasing the intensity of exercise, incorporating regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the calf muscles, wearing appropriate footwear with proper support, and paying attention to any warning signs of pain or discomfort can help reduce the risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.

What treatments might help Achilles Tendonitis?

The treatment approach for Achilles tendonitis aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, promote healing, and prevent further complications. Here are some common methods that can help improve Achilles tendonitis:

Rest

Resting the affected leg and avoiding activities that worsen the pain can give the tendon time to heal. It is important to avoid putting excessive strain on the tendon during this time.

Ice

Applying ice to the tendon for about 15 minutes after exercising or when experiencing pain can help decrease pain and swelling. Use an ice pack or wrap ice in a cloth to avoid direct contact with the skin.

Compression

Wrapping the affected area with a compression bandage can provide support and reduce swelling. Ensure that the bandage is not too tight to restrict blood circulation.

Elevation

Elevating the leg by propping it up on a pillow or cushion can help reduce swelling by promoting fluid drainage.

Pain Medication

Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, may help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Physical Therapy

A physiotherapist can provide exercises and stretches to strengthen the Achilles tendon and surrounding muscles. They may also use techniques such as ultrasound or laser therapy to promote healing.

Orthotic Devices

Custom orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts or heel lifts, can help support the foot and reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.

Activity Modification

Avoid or modify activities that aggravate the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. Gradually reintroduce activities once the pain subsides and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Signs of Achilles Tendonitis:

The signs of Achilles tendonitis can include:

Pain

You may experience pain along the back of the leg or above the heel, especially after running or participating in sports. The pain can start as a mild ache and gradually worsen over time.

Stiffness

You may feel stiffness in the morning or after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for a long time. The tendon and surrounding area may feel tight and restricted.

Swelling

In some cases, there may be swelling around the Achilles tendon. This swelling can make the area tender to the touch.

Tenderness

The affected area may be tender to touch or pressure. You may feel discomfort when applying pressure to the back of the heel or along the tendon.

Morning Pain

Many individuals with Achilles tendonitis experience increased pain and stiffness in the morning, which can improve throughout the day with movement.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis:

The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis can include:

Pain

You may experience pain in the back of the leg or above the heel. The pain is often described as a mild ache that worsens after running or participating in sports.

Swelling

There may be swelling along the Achilles tendon or at the back of the heel.

Stiffness

You may feel stiffness in the morning or after periods of inactivity, such as sitting for a long time. The tendon and surrounding area may feel tight and restricted.

Tenderness

The affected area may be tender to touch or pressure. You may feel discomfort when applying pressure to the back of the heel or along the tendon.

Morning Pain

Many individuals with Achilles tendonitis experience increased pain and stiffness in the morning, which can improve throughout the day with movement.

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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Achilles Tendonitis?

It is generally recommended to see a chiropractor if you are experiencing symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. These healthcare professionals can assess your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

You should consider seeing a chiropractor if you are experiencing persistent pain, swelling, or discomfort in the back of the ankle or along the Achilles tendon. Additionally, if you have difficulty walking, notice a decrease in mobility, or find that your symptoms are interfering with your daily activities or exercise routine, it may be a good time to seek professional help.

Early intervention is important in managing Achilles tendonitis to prevent the condition from worsening or becoming chronic. Seeking treatment from a chiropractor at the onset of symptoms can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Chiropractor

Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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