Achilles tendon pain is a common complaint from patients of our podiatrists in Massapequa, NY. Often, it’s caused by Achilles tendinitis, a painful condition caused by inflammation or small tears in the tendon. Want to prevent or relieve Achilles tendon pain? Keep reading to score our best prevention and treatment tips!  

Achilles tendonitis: what’s causing that tendon pain?   

Achilles tendinitis describes painful inflammation in your tendon. Typically, this condition is the result of overusing that tendon, which runs through the back of your calf muscle and terminates at your heel bone.

Now, tendinitis can impact anyone. But athletes and active individuals are most likely to sustain this injury, especially when they suddenly increase the speed, intensity or distance of their training. In fact, Achilles tendon pain brought down NY Jets quarterback #AaronRodgers at the very start of his NFL season when he suffered a tendon rupture. 

Surprisingly, it can also impact people who only work out on the weekends, but are pretty inactive during the week. Achilles tendon pain can also impact those who engage in the exact same workouts every day, not allowing their bodies to rest in between sessions. Finally, those who make bad shoe choices—walking around in unsupportive foot wear or in super high heels—can also be impacted by tendinitis. 

When is Achilles tendon pain the worst? woman grabbing back of calf

For many patients, their Achilles pain in the morning is worse than at any other time throughout the day. But why is that the case? Here’s the story. When you have tendinitis or tendinopathy, fluid can flow between the collagen fibers in your tendon, collecting enough to increases the size of your tendon and make your nerves more sensitive at their end points. 

So, when those nerve endings are all fired up, and you suddenly increase pressure on the Achilles tendon by standing up, you’re going to experience some pain. Luckily, as you move around a bit more and get the fluid moving, your pain should decrease. However, unless you seek treatment for tendinitis, that early morning tendon pain could become a chronic problem. 

Achilles tendon pain and other symptoms of tendonitis

Aside from Achilles pain in the morning, other tendinitis symptoms can include: 

•    Heel pain, typically centralized around the area where the Achilles tendon attaches to your heel bone.
•    Pain in your calf or the back of your leg, especially when you are running or walking. 
•    The length of your Achilles tendon feels tender to touch. 
•    The tendon may appear swollen, or even develop a nodule (hard lump) that’s visible from the skin’s surface.

Of course, every person’s specific tendinitis symptoms will vary slightly. And that’s why we always take your complete medical history when you come into our Nassau County podiatry practice complaining of Achilles tendon pain. However, one thing is always true.  If you ignore pain in your Achilles tendon, and delay seeking treatment for tendinitis, any symptoms you have right now will keep worsening. In fact, if you wait too long to seek medical intervention, and do nothing to prevent tendinitis flare you’re your condition could progress to the point where you suffer an Achilles tendon rupture.  

Preventing Achilles tendon pain 

In order to prevent tendinitis, you need to be aware of the factors that increase your risk for tendon pain. These include: 

1.    Obesity or sudden weight gain 
2.    Tight calf muscles
3.    Wearing unsupportive, flat or worn out shoes, especially for extended periods of physical activity
4.    Walking or running on hills or on surfaces with steep elevations
5.    Suddenly increasing the intensity or duration of your workouts 

Clearly, even if you aren’t working out regularly, we need to focus on Achilles injury prevention. Especially if you fall under any of the risk categories we just highlighted. Luckily, the best ways to prevent problems are non-invasive: you can stretch regularly; take workout breaks; and invest in custom orthotics. 

Now, often, we tell our patients to invest in Medical Grade Insoles (MGIs), since they can offer effective foot support at a lower cost than orthotics. However, if you wish to prevent Achilles tendon pain, we must fit you for custom orthotics. That way, Dr. Mark Gasparini or Dr. Novneet Chhabra can write a specific orthotic prescription designed to keep stress off your Achilles tendon, and prevent tendinitis from becoming a concern. 

Relieving Achilles tendinitis in Massapequa, NY

When our podiatrists in Long Island see patients in the office with symptoms of tendinitis, they can create customized treatment plans that address the severity of your Achilles tendon pain, while addressing the condition’s underlying cause so problems don’t return. 

Initially, that may mean managing your pain and inflammation with prescription anti-inflammatory medications. We will almost certainly prescribe custom orthotics, since the support they provide your feet and arches can both prevent and relieve Achilles tendon pain by reducing stress in the region. We’re also likely to suggest dialing back your physical activity level during your initial recovery period, so your tendon can heal.  And icing your tendon—avoiding direct skin contact by wrapping your ice in a towel—can also help relieve inflammation. When experiencing painful flare ups, aim to ice the tendon for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. 

During your recovery period, regular stretching exercises can help reduce any tension on your Achilles tendon that results from calf muscles that have tightened up.  Gradually, as inflammation and pain resolve in the area, we’ll also suggest incorporating strength training into your recovery plan, allowing you to slowly get back to your pre-injury activity and fitness levels.  

Lasting Achilles tendon pain relief is available, sooner than you think! 

When it comes to finding lasting relief for tendinitis, early intervention is key to your smooth and speedy recover. To that end, we urge you to come into the office as soon as you notice any symptoms of tendinitis. So, if you’ve been waking up with heel pain, or noticing that the backs of your legs hurt when you walk or run, now’s the time to schedule an appointment in the office. When you come in, we’ll resolve your Achilles tendon and keep tendinitis from returning. 

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