Problems with the Achilles tendon are fairly common, especially in athletes and the aging population, although individuals with this disorder may not pinpoint the problem immediately. Moreover, Achilles tendonitis can present with symptoms indicative of other diagnoses, such as plantar fasciitis or calcaneal bursitis. Are you curious about how to treat Achilles tendonitis? It’s essential to identify the problem correctly so that you can get the proper treatment to improve your symptoms, relieve your pain and improve your mobility.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon, also called the calcaneal tendon, runs up the back of your ankle, connecting your calf muscle to your heel. It’s the thickest bone in your body and withstands a great deal of stress. This tendon allows you to flex and point your toe and helps you walk, run, and jump.
Achilles tendonitis develops when the tissue in this area becomes inflamed. Two areas are generally affected, including:
- The connection between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone
- The attachment between the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle
Although this condition is common in runners and gymnasts, it can affect anyone. It is usually caused by repetitive strain or a sudden load on the Achilles tendon. For example, going on a long hike after hibernating all winter can bring on Achilles tendonitis. So can a sudden, intense burst of movement, such as changing directions on a basketball court.
Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones work together to support your movements. Achilles tendonitis is often linked with other structural and biomechanical issues, such as:
- A shortened calf muscle
- Foot instability
- Poor range of motion in the ankle
- Problems with core and lumbar stability
Do You Have These Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms?
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you usually experience mild to severe pain in the heel, back of the ankle, or calf muscle. The discomfort may come on gradually or quickly. In general, however, acute, intense pain is a sign of an Achilles tendon rupture, which can occur if Achilles tendonitis goes untreated. Heel and leg pain caused by Achilles tendonitis can be debilitating.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include:
- Pain in the back of your lower leg
- Pain in the back or bottom of your heel
- Stiffness in the Achilles tendon, heel, or lower leg upon waking
- Increased discomfort with physical activity
- Decreased mobility in the foot or ankle
- Limping or modifying movements to minimize discomfort
- An Achilles tendonitis lump at the base or center of the tendon
How to Treat Achilles Tendonitis
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, treating the condition may be at the forefront of your mind. In many cases, damage to the tendon develops over time. By the time you’re in pain, the damage has been done. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not reversible. In fact, treating Achilles tendonitis as soon as possible can prevent the condition from worsening and causing additional soft tissue deterioration.
#1: Taping for Achilles Tendonitis
If you have ever seen an athlete with a distinct tape pattern on their calf or ankle, you might have wondered how to treat Achilles tendonitis using that method. Strategically adhering tape to the outside of the skin in the affected region can prevent and treat Achilles tendon pain. Taping can reduce the force on the Achilles tendon. It also supports the optimal structure of the feet and ankle. For example, you can use tape to reduce hyperextension in the ankle or reinforce the foot’s arch. A chiropractor experienced with sports injury treatment can guide you toward selecting the correct type of tape and applying it in the best pattern for your condition.
#2: Load Management
Your skeletal structure, including the tendons, needs a certain amount of activation to function optimally. Immobility and bed rest may relieve immediate inflammation following an injury. But lack of motion weakens the tendon, putting you at risk of getting the condition again. Recognizing how much load a healthy or injured Achilles tendon can handle allows you to manage the condition and perform the proper amount and types of exercise to strengthen and challenge the tendon.
Achilles tendonitis massage with compression mobilizes fluid and enhances circulation. The NormaTec Recovery System uses Achilles tendon massage with compression to promote healing and reduce swelling. In addition, if a related muscular or structural issue causes Achilles tendonitis, compression massage throughout the leg can speed recovery.
Applying cold compresses at home can ease pain and reduce inflammation. A sports injury professional can combine ice with compression using equipment that runs water through a sleeve that’s applied to your body.
#5: Cold Laser Therapy
Low-level lasers have been used to treat Achilles tendonitis heel pain for decades. This type of therapy speeds up tissue repair, relieves pain, and reduces swelling.
#6: Soft Tissue Techniques
Specific soft tissue techniques have been proven effective in how to treat Achilles tendonitis. These address the connections between the muscles, bones, and skin, detecting and softening areas of scar tissue, fibroids, or adhesions that restrict optimal movement.
Some soft tissue techniques performed by a chiropractor and sports rehabilitation specialist include:
- Graston technique
- Active release technique
Activities to Avoid when Healing Your Achilles Tendon
If you’ve been going to the chiropractor consistently and keeping up with your treatment plan, your Achilles tendonitis heel and leg discomfort should diminish. But keep in mind that certain movements can aggravate symptoms and weaken the positive effects of rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Your feet take you just about everywhere, and your Achilles tendon works hard. Modify your activity while you heal the injury to give yourself the best shot of alleviating your symptoms.
Some movements that you should limit as much as possible include:
- Climbing and descending ladders
- Walking up and down the stairs
- Lunging, jumping, squatting, and sprinting
- Walking up and down hills
- Walking on uneven ground
If you want to know how to treat Achilles tendonitis at home, you should know that DIY treatments and rest are significantly less effective. Instead, an experienced chiropractor addresses the neurological, structural, vascular, and circulatory issues that could be contributing to the problem. Targeting the source of the issue with evidence-based methods can prevent the condition from becoming chronic or causing permanent damage.
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services!