Achilles Tendinitis: A Heel Weakness

You need to be able to push off the ground powerfully for many different actions, from normal walking to jumping as high as you can. Several structures in your foot allow this to happen, as well as add strength to the force of your steps. When you develop injuries like Achilles tendinitis, the structures responsible for these movements are compromised, weakening you.

Damage over Time

Achilles tendinitis is a painful problem affecting one of the main connectors in your lower limbs. Your Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to the back of your heel, allowing you to point your foot, rise up on your toes, and push off the ground to take a step. The thick connective tissue is tough and able to withstand high levels of pressure, but it can become strained and overworked. This is when you develop injuries.

Tendinitis is a stiffening, thickening, and weakening of the tendon. Overuse wears out the Achilles, and it becomes inflamed and irritated. This can impact the tissue right where it attaches to the heel bone, or develop more behind the ankle. In either case, it hurts when you move. You will feel pain and stiffness along the connector, particularly when you first get up in the morning and when you’re participating in activities. The back of the heel and ankle may be swollen and tender to the touch as well.

Causing the Problem

Since this is an overuse injury, there can be many different causes. Increasing the intensity or duration of your exercises or activities can strain the tendon, since it isn’t conditioned to handle that level of stress. Tightened calf muscles pull on the connector and may strain it. Bone spurs or preexisting foot or ankle conditions also aggravate the tissue and may cause inflammation.

Finding a Solution

You will need to treat your Achilles tendinitis in order to resolve the injury and relieve the pain. This condition does not get better on its own—in fact, if frequently worsens. You’ll need to have the issue diagnosed and managed by experienced specialists. Our team at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle will examine your lower limbs carefully. We will use a variety of tests to not only identify your condition and rule out other possible problems, but also determine what may have caused the issue in the first place. Then you can begin treatment.

First, you will need to rest and bring down the irritation in the Achilles tendon. Take a break from your activities so frequent impacts or repeated motions don’t make the problem worse. This also allows your body time to repair any damage. If your condition is chronic or severe, you may need to immobilize your lower limb for a short time. Ice and elevate the foot when you can to discourage inflammation and swelling. You’ll need to stretch out any tightness in the connector as well.

You may also need to make adjustments to your footwear and orthotics, especially if poor shoes or biomechanical issues contributed to your injury. Once your Achilles has sufficiently recovered, you’ll need to carefully recondition your lower limbs to handle your activities. This may involve physical therapy to stretch and strengthen your tendon and calf muscles.

Achilles tendinitis is a painful problem, but it doesn’t have to control you and your activities. If you start noticing Achilles pain, don’t wait until you’re limping to seek help. Contact our team at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle in Berkley, MI. We’ll help you restore and protect this valuable connector. Use our online request forms or call (248) 545-0100 to reach us for an appointment.