Achilles tendon pain is one of the most common problems we see at the Foot Specialists of Long Island. Even though your Achilles tendons are the two thickest and toughest out of the 4,000 or so you have in your entire body, they are still very susceptible to injury just because of the incredible amount of force and stress they have to contend with.
Tendon problems are common among athletes, people who work on their feet, and people who are overweight. Your risk goes up if you have structural issues with your feet, tight calves, wear poor shoes, or are older than about 35. In other words, a lot of people are at risk! (Some estimates suggest almost 1 in 4 Americans will develop Achilles tendinitis at least once in their lifetime.)
Unfortunately, this also means that many people who develop Achilles tendon pain have a hard time shaking it—at least for more than a short while before the pain comes back. Chronic Achilles tendon pain not only makes your life harder and less fun, but can also increase your risk of a much more painful and devastating Achilles rupture.
The best way to avoid this fate? You need a comprehensive treatment plan to deal with your Achilles pain—and it just so happens we can help you with that!
We’ve been treating Achilles tendinopathy for years, and we have built a highly successful treatment program to help our patients make full, lasting recoveries from tendon pain. If Achilles problems keep holding you back, don’t wait any longer to call us!
Building Your Treatment Plan
Below, we’ll run down what an Achilles tendinopathy treatment plan might look like for a typical patient. However, it’s important to clarify that each patient is unique. Treating foot problems isn’t an “assembly line” process, but one that requires a careful evaluation of your condition, your health, and your needs.
With that caveat out of the way, let’s look at how we might build out a typical Achilles tendinopathy treatment plan.
Start on NSAIDs
For most people, using an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen or aspirin is a great first step toward getting pain and inflammation under control, especially during the early stages of a flare-up. Do confirm that NSAIDs are safe for you to take, and please follow dosage directions closely.
Depending on your situation, we may prescribe higher-dosage NSAIDs if we feel it may be necessary.
Develop a Stretching Regimen
In many cases, Achilles tendon pain is linked with tightness or weakness in the tendon, the calf muscles, or other connected or supporting structures.
Daily stretching of the tendon, feet, and calves can help not only ease the pain of an ongoing case of tendinitis, but also strengthen the tendon and make it more resistant against future injuries.
But it’s not necessarily the case that “any old stretches” will do. After evaluating your condition, we’ll guide you through a program of specific stretches that we believe will give you the best chance at long-term success.
Applying a source of cold to the painful tendon can be a great way to dull the sensation of pain and keep your swelling down as much as possible.
Using ice packs for up to 15-20 minutes at a time, a few times per day, is often a good strategy. You can even use something like a bag of frozen veggies, as long as you wrap it in a thin towel and avoid putting the cold source directly onto your skin.
An even more convenient option (especially if you’re away from home) is to use Stopain gel, which we provide at our office. All you have to do is massage the gel into your skin above the painful area. The active ingredient (menthol) activates your nerves’ “cold receptors,” essentially making your brain think that you’re cold—which triggers an anti-inflammatory response. Stopain also helps boost circulation, which further reduces swelling and helps your body heal faster.
Prefabricated Shoe Inserts
In many cases, the mechanical problems that are contributing to your tight, injured, inflamed tendon can be solved by altering those mechanics with appropriate shoe inserts.
That being said, we are not saying you can just go to the pharmacy and buy whatever looks good to you. Even prefabricated inserts must be chosen with care. Without direct input from an expert like Dr. Gasparini or Dr. Chhabra, it’s unlikely you’ll select something that will truly give you the full benefit you deserve.
Our office is stocked with a wide variety of high quality, medical-grade inserts that provide superior results to what you can typically find at the pharmacy—plus you’ll have us to help you pick out the perfect pair. We can get you in a set right away during your first appointment, so you can start seeing relief as quickly as possible.
Depending on your condition, your medical-grade inserts may also be “augmented” with the use of heel lifts. Heel lifts are another type of shoe insert that gently raises the heel, which in turn reduces the load on the Achilles tendon. Your medical-grade inserts can be worn overtop of the heel lift to combine their effects.
In cases where a fundamental problem with foot structure or gait mechanics is too severe for prefabricated inserts to fully address, custom orthotics are usually a better long-term solution. We take the measurements for your feet carefully in the office, then send those measurements to a lab where your new orthotics can be custom fabricated from the ground up.
In the meantime, we’ll probably still send you home with medical-grade inserts and/or heel lifts that you can put to use right away. These less sophisticated inserts can still help to at least partially relieve your pain and discomfort in the short term, while you wait for your custom orthotics to be made.
Laser therapy is an exciting, advanced treatment option that has been shown to be highly effective for many kinds of soft tissue injuries, including Achilles tendinopathy.
The laser device emits focused beams of light at a wavelength that your body’s cells can harness to stimulate or accelerate several beneficial effects. This includes increased vascular activity and accelerated tissue regeneration and repair.
When added to a treatment plan, laser therapy can help get the pain under control faster while reducing your overall healing and recovery time—in some cases by a significant margin.
Send for Physical Therapy
While we are very well trained in helping our patients put together a good stretching program, sometimes we may recommend that you be evaluated by a licensed physical therapist as well. This might especially be the case if your injury is severe, or if you have a highly active lifestyle.
We have strong relationships with several excellent PTs in the area and would be happy to make a referral or recommendation.
Find Your Road to Recovery Today!
As we said up top, there’s no one “assembly line” solution that works for everybody. Your situation is unique, just like everyone else’s.
That’s why it is so important that you seek out the help of expert “guides” like Dr. Gasparini and Dr. Chhabra. We help people with Achilles tendon pain on a daily basis. We know what to look for, we know what questions to ask, and we know how to build a customized roadmap to recovery that will give you the best chance at rapid (and lasting) relief.
To schedule your appointment with the Foot Specialists of Long Island, please give us a call at (516) 804-9038, or use our contact form to request an appointment online.