What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is an inflammation of the major tendon at the back of the ankle. It results in pain at the back of the ankle along the tendon or farther toward the heel, where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone.
Cause of Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis results from injury to the small fibers that make up the tendon. This tendon injury usually occurs due to a chronic, repetitive strain or overuse of the ankle. This happens from excessive exercise, weight gain, or poor footwear.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles tendinitis usually causes pain at the back of the ankle or the back of the heel, most notably upon arising from rest. Sometimes, the heel pain improves with activity, but usually worsens again with too much activity. The pain can be described as deep, throbbing, burning, pulling, or a bruised feeling. Sometimes, a swollen area appears at the back of the ankle or heel.
The foot doctors at Raleigh Foot and Ankle Center will listen to patients describe their heel pain. Then, a physical exam will be performed, which will lead to a diagnosis of Achilles tendinitis. Often, we will take x-rays of the foot to rule out other conditions. Ultrasound can alsop help evaluate the condition of the Achilles tendon.
What Can I Do About My Achilles Tendinitis?
Many treatments are available for Achilles tendinitis. Most involve ways to support the foot, control ankle motion, decrease inflammation, and promote healing of the damaged tendon. Rest is an important part of the treatment plan. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, stretching and icing techniques, ankle braces, walking casts, night splint devices, physical therapy, and custom orthotic shoe inserts. Cortisone injections are not a good idea for Achilles tendinitis, as they can lead to tendon rupture.
Shockwave Therapy for Achilles Tendinitis
Another treatment for Achilles tendinitis is Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, or Shockwave. Shockwave is a safe procedure for treating heel pain in the back of the ankle. It is performed in an office setting without the need for anesthesia. It uses energy waves from a hand-held device to stimulate the body's own natural healing processes to repair damaged tissue. It often requires several treatments over several weeks to achieve successful outcomes.
Is Surgery an Option?
In rare cases, outpatient surgery is necessary for Achilles tendinitis, especially when bone abnormalities are present. These surgeries are often successful, but nearly always require significant time off from walking and other daily activities.
The foot doctors at Raleigh Foot and Ankle Center can answer questions about this conditionand treatment options. Call us at (919) 850-9111 to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist and learn more about your options for diagnosing and treating your Achilles tendinitis.
Find out more about treating heel pain with Shockwave Therapy by visiting our Shockwave page.
To get back on your feet—without the heel pain—as soon as possible, and learn how you can treat your Achilles tendinitis, call Raleigh Foot and Ankle Center today to schedule your appointment with a foot doctor at (919) 850-9111 or fill out our online Request an Appointment form.