Tips for Safe Rehabilitation: Do’s and Don’ts for Achilles Tendinitis
Achilles Tendinitis, more commonly known as heel pain, usually presents as severe pain in the back of the heel. The treatment options are multiple, ranging from home remedies to anti-inflammatory medications. However, consulting a physical therapist is the best option for most people, as it provides long-term relief.
What Is Achilles Tendinitis?
The calf muscle is a pretty large one. It can be considered to be one of the most important muscles of the lower limbs as its pumping action, ensures good blood supply to the lower limbs.
As such, it requires a pretty large tendon to help it stay attached to the heel of the leg. The inflammation or swelling of this tendon is what we call Achilles tendinitis.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis
Listed below are the symptoms you may experience if your Achilles tendon is inflamed:
- Pain in the back of the heel
- Swelling in the back of the heel that might increase on standing or walking
- Limited movement in the foot
- Stiffness in the foot
- Warmth around the foot
- Thickening of the tendon
- Difficulty or pain when standing for long periods
What Leads To Achilles Tendinitis?
- Overuse of the Achilles tendon is the most common cause of Achilles tendinitis. This is most commonly seen in athletes or those who are employed in jobs that require standing for prolonged periods.
- Arthritis is the second most common cause of Achilles tendinitis. This is seen in middle-aged or older people.
- A strain of the calf muscle due to overuse
- Exercising without warming up
- A sudden increase in physical activity
- Aggressive exercising without allowing the body to adjust properly
- Poorly fitted shoes
Common Treatments For Achilles Tendinitis
- Physical therapy
- Reducing activity
- Anti-inflammatory injections or medicines
What Is RICE Method?
The RICE method is a common abbreviation for the most often followed line of treatment when it comes to Achilles tendinitis.
The treatment involves the following 4 components:
Rest is obviously required so that there is no additional strain placed upon the tendon.
Ice will help to reduce the swelling by increasing blood supply to the area.
Compression is usually applied with the help of bandages or a compression sock. This will prevent further swelling of the area and will also provide support to the ankle joint.
Elevation or raising of the affected area above the level of the heart will ensure that all the blood returns to the heart and swelling remain at a minimum.
Physical Therapy In Achilles Tendinitis
Physical Therapy for Achilles Tendinitis will include one or more of the following treatments:
- Tiptoes on both legs, with Straight Legs.
- Tiptoes on both legs, with Knees Bent.
- Tiptoes on one leg, Leg Straight.
- Tiptoes on one leg, Leg Bent.
- Heel Drops over edge of a step, With Leg Straight.
- Heel Drops over edge of a step, With Knee Bent.
- Crumpling Of the Toes with towel.
- Gastrocnemius Stretch.
- Soleus Stretch.
- Stretching of the affected area ensures that the muscles regain their range of motion.
- Range of motion exercises to reduce stiffness and promote movement in the area.
- Strengthening exercises ensures that the muscles involved have regained their strength after recovering from the injury.
- Additional therapy may help you recover faster, like massage and chiropractics.
- Education regarding the movements that might trigger your pain will help you steer clear of any damaging movements in the future.
- Manual therapy at the affected site will help to deal with any trigger points and break adhesions.
Can Achilles Tendinitis Be Prevented?
It is not possible to prevent Achilles tendinitis as that would mean that you would have to restrict your movement severely. However, there are some precautions that you can take:
- Always ensure a proper stretching, warm-up and cool-down session especially if you are an athlete or a participant of an active sport.
- Perform regular limb strengthening exercises to ensure that the muscles of your legs are strong and flexible.
- Approach your physical therapist if you have been suffering from repeated bouts of pain in the heel.
- Ensure that you get proper rest between playing periods so that your muscles get enough time to rebuild themselves.
- Correct footwear, preferably orthopedic in nature are also recommended specially if you suffer from repeated bouts.