It’s February and you’ve been doing well with the running program you resolved to start in January. So well in fact, that you’ve decided to kick it up a notch and increase your speed as well as your distance. Since then you’ve been having pain in the back of your lower leg. It seemed mild at first and you figured it was just a little muscle stretching but it’s been getting worse after each run. Your lower leg is also stiff, especially first thing in the morning and sometimes it swells up. If this sounds familiar, chances are you have Achilles tendonitis.
At Edmond Norman Foot & Ankle we frequently see cases of Achilles tendonitis related to fitness and exercise. Most often, a patient will increase the intensity or time of their workout too quickly causing a strain on the calf and lower leg muscles which results in an inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Other causes of Achilles tendonitis include:
- Sudden trauma to the tendon from an abrupt stretching brought on by jumping or sprinting
- Failing to stretch and warm up adequately before beginning an activity that strains the tendon
- Repetitive activity, such as stair or hill climbing, that results in overuse and aggravation to the Achilles tendon
- Mechanical problems with your feet: overpronation, your foot turning inwards or downwards excessively when you walk or run
- Improper footwear
Treating an Inflamed Achilles
If after examination our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. A. Bil Buksh, diagnoses Achilles tendonitis you’ll need to put a hold on your running program (or whatever activity is aggravating the tendon) for a period of time. Depending on your individual case, the foot doctor may use one or more of the following treatment methods:
- Using massage, ice and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and swelling
- A brace, walking boot or support bandage to limit the motion of the tendon and prevent further stress to the area
- Physical therapy and stretching exercises for the tendon and surrounding muscles
- Orthotic inserts for shoes and sneakers to shift position and alleviate strain to the tendon
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tendon if non-invasive therapies are unsuccessful.