Physical Therapy Month: Fixing What Ails You — Achilles Tendinitis – What it Is & What to Do

Ever heard the phrase “that was his Achilles heel”? That phrase has staying power because the Achilles tendon is a really big deal; injury and pain there cause major problems that can really take you out of the game (even if your game is only your daily routine). We give you the scoop on common Achilles tendon issue so you won’t be in the dark if you’re hit in your “Achilles heel.”

The Achilles tendon is a thick tendon running from the back of your calf down to your heel. It connects your lower calf muscles to your heel bone. If you enjoy walking, running, or other daily activities, you can thank your Achilles tendon! There’s a tremendous workload placed on this tendon daily, so it’s no wonder that you can end up with pain and injuries to this workhorse of the leg.

The Pain: Achilles tendinitis is a common injury/issue for this tendon. It may begin as a mild ache in the back of your leg or above your heel after finishing activities like running, etc. (An Achilles injury may be acute and more serious.) You may also have stiffness in the morning that improves with activity.

The Problem: Often caused by overuse, such as running or playing tennis or basketball as a “weekend warrior,” the tendon will grow inflamed and irritated. Tight calves, age, and doing “too much, too soon” can contribute to Achilles tendinitis. Acute Achilles injuries are sudden, sometimes dramatic, and typically obvious.

The Treatment:

At Home: Tendinitis often responds well to rest and ice; your Achilles tendon may thank you if you take time off your routine (especially whatever has provoked it). Icing, resting, wrapping, and elevating the affected leg may all may be beneficial.

What to Watch For: Watch for increased pain, severe pain, difficulty walking, pain that disrupts sleep, and/or pain/stiffness/range-of-motion problems that don’t improve with time.

Seeking a Professional: If it’s time to call in the pros, be sure to find a qualified physical therapist. S/he will have plenty of experience dealing with Achilles issues – from what causes them, to how to treat and prevent them in the future. You can make an appointment directly with your physical therapist – no need to wait on an appointment with your primary care doctor. Your physical therapist will then work with your insurance and your doctor if future visits and a referral are necessary. S/he will also develop a custom treatment plan to get you moving in the right direction. Your physical therapist will likely have you do specific exercises designed to improve flexibility and strength in both your Achilles tendon and your calf. (Severe Achilles injuries may require other treatment or surgical repair.)

Are you stuck on the couch when you’d rather be doing something (anything) else? Don’t let injury write your story – call Body One Physical Therapy today! Our team of experienced, compassionate physical therapists is ready to help get you back to living the life you deserve. Body One is locally-owned with four locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. No one gets a medal for suffering: put your health first and call Body One to schedule your appointment today!