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If you have pain in the back of your heel during or immediately after physical activity, a likely culprit is Achilles tendinitis. This is an especially common “overuse” injury – one that affects many athletes and individuals who lead active lifestyles.
The core issue here is that an overworked Achilles tendon has become inflamed. And while this is a common problem, it’s also a treatable one.
If you – or any active family members – are suffering from this painful condition, we can help.
Dr. Leibovitz has more than thirty years of experience in providing treatment plans to get athletes back in the game – and he can do the same for you. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, just give us a call at (317) 545-0505 or request your visit online.
How do you know if you have Achilles tendinitis?
As noted, the main symptom of Achilles tendinitis is heel pain in the upper back area of the heel. This pain can extend up to just below the heart-shaped calf muscle.
If your pain is in the bottom of your heel, you may have plantar fasciitis instead.
Additionally, you can also have swelling and limited range of motion (when flexing your foot).
When you first start walking after sitting for a while, you may experience tenderness in the area. You can feel for this by running your fingers down both sides of the tendon:
- If there is no change in the size of your Achilles, that’s a good sign.
- If you notice swelling, a distinct deficit, or a small depression you have significant problems, especially if the deficit is large. (In that case, you may actually have a tendon tear – which is a critical issue.)
There’s a sheath around the tendon that provides lubrication and allows it to glide freely. This sheath can also become inflamed.
You can tell if it is when you run your finger down the tendon and find a long, extended area of tenderness. It can also feel spongy or “crunchy” with movement or pressure.
If you experience any of this, you’re looking at a sign of chronic irritation. And that is a serious problem.
If there is tenderness in your calf muscle (or in the junction between the muscle and tendon), this is a muscular injury – and not Achilles tendinitis – and it should go away with rest in 2 to 4 days.
How do we treat Achilles tendinitis?
When treating this injury for active patients, we consider “rest” a dirty word:
Our goals are to help you maintain activity and improve comfort, and that’s easiest if we can treat your tendinitis in the early stages.
To be realistic, if you have Achilles pain more than one month, that may not be in the cards for you. Soft tissue inflammation is like a forest fire – the sooner it’s identified, the easier it is to resolve with minimal damage.
The good news about this condition is that conservative (nonsurgical) treatment is often effective. This might include:
- Altering physical activities
- Stretching exercises
- Hot/cold therapy
- Wearing a protective brace
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Shoe inserts
- Laser therapy
Any area of the Achilles tendon is a NO injection zone. Injection therapy is great for some conditions. This is not one of them.
In rare cases, surgery can be used to repair a severely damaged tendon. This is usually reserved for high-level athletes who suffer an Achilles rupture.
Since early treatment is ideal, we encourage you to reach out at the earliest opportunity. Doing so gives you the best opportunity to have the condition treated in the easiest possible way.
Get back in the game (with professional treatment)!
If you’d like more information or are ready to get rid of that pain in the back of your heel, simply give our Indianapolis office a call at (317) 545-0505.
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