Achilles tendinitis can be a very frustrating condition to suffer from. It can cause you a lot of pain and limit the physical activities you love to do. It’s important to take care of your heels and your Achilles tendon, so that you are able to continue living an active lifestyle.
What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon, in this case the Achilles tendon (the largest one in the body) that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. There are two different types. Noninsertional is when the middle part of the tendon becomes inflamed, and it usually affects younger, more active people. Insertional is when the inflammation occurs at the point where the tendon inserts into the bone, and it can happen to anyone at any time. If you suffer from this condition, you will most likely have pain along the tendon first thing in the morning, when it has tightened up with rest, and it can get worse as your activity level increases. Your ankle may also be swollen. If you notice any of these symptoms, you may wish to schedule a visit to Coastal Podiatry, LLC for an evaluation.
What are the Causes of Achilles Tendinitis?
This problem is usually thought of as an active person’s injury, although that is not always the case. Some of the main causes of this condition include increasing your activity level suddenly, rather than gradually over time; working out without properly stretching your calf muscles; and having a bone spur on your ankle. These are risk factors that may increase your chances of developing problems with your Achilles tendon.
What are the Treatment Options?
Achilles tendinitis can sometimes be treated with conservative methods. You must first discontinue the activity that is causing the problem. Rest your feet and ice them a few times a day to bring down any swelling that may be occurring. We can demonstrate various heel and calf stretches that you can do to help with your pain and prevent further damage. We can also recommend special shoes or design a custom-made orthotic to address your symptoms. Many of our patients find relief from the pain and are able to resume normal activities with these treatments.
If none of these noninvasive methods seem to be working, you can move towards other options. Cortisone injections into the part of the foot that is hurting can be very beneficial. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) can also help with the healing process. If after six months of conservative treatment there is no change to your ankle, you might consider surgery as a last resort.
What is Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy?
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is used to treat chronic heel pain (plantar fasciitis). "Extracorporeal" means "outside of the body." During this noninvasive procedure, sonic waves are directed at the area of pain using a device similar to that currently used in nonsurgical treatment of kidney stones.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy is prescribed for patients who have experienced plantar fasciitis for an extended period of time -- six months or more -- and have not benefited from other conservative treatments. The brief procedure lasts about 30 minutes and is performed under local anesthesia and/or "twilight" anesthesia. Strong sound waves are directed at and penetrate the heel area to stimulate a healing response by the body. ESWT is performed on an outpatient basis. Although there are no bandages, someone will need to drive the patient home.
People who are not candidates for ESWT include pregnant women and individuals with neurological foot disease, vascular foot disease, pacemakers, or people taking medications that interfere with blood clotting (such as Coumadin).
This therapy is a safe and effective alternative treatment for heel pain and only requires a short recovery time. Clinical studies show a 70 percent success rate for treatment of plantar fasciitis using Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy.