Achilles tendonitis pain is typically located at the back of the leg, on the heel or above the heel. The pain usually increases after physical activity, such as running, stair climbing and sprinting.
You may also experience stiffness at the back of your leg in the mornings, although this stiffness most often improves soon after you get up and walk around.
How is Achilles tendonitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical examination of the back of your leg or heel. They will look for tenderness and check for a range of motion and flexibility.
For a more detailed view, the doctor may order one or more of the following tests:
- X-ray: This helps rule out other conditions responsible for similar pain.
- Ultrasound: This helps the doctor visualize the soft tissues in your leg, such as tendons. A special type of ultrasound, known as color Doppler, helps visualize blood flow to the tendon.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This imaging test provides detailed images of the Achilles tendon.
Is it okay to walk with Achilles tendonitis?
It is okay to walk with Achilles tendonitis, but most doctors recommend wearing a brace or walking boot to prevent the movement of your heel and help the Achilles tendon heal faster. Your doctor may also recommend you to wear a special shoe with a built-in heel, which can help reduce stress on your heel while moving around.
Ensuring a speedy recovery from pain and helping your Achilles tendon heal faster may require a few at-home remedies, such as:
- Calf stretch: Before and after exercise, stretch your calf muscles well.
- Rest: Resting means not putting strain on the Achilles tendon. Make use of orthotic devices such as braces and walking boots while walking.
- Ice: Apply ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes about four to five times a day.
- Compression: Wrapping a compression stocking around the back of your leg or heel helps relieve pain and swelling. Avoid wrapping too tightly because this can hamper blood flow to your tendon.
- Elevation: Raise the affected leg to a height above your chest during daytime napping or while sleeping at night.
- Analgesics: Take over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, as advised by your doctor.
- Physical therapy: Your doctor will refer you to a physical therapist to perform various exercises that can help strengthen your Achilles tendon. Performing these exercises regularly is essential to your speedy recovery from Achilles tendonitis.
When do you need surgery for Achilles tendonitis?
You may need surgery for your Achilles tendonitis when the aforementioned at-home remedies do not work.
Furthermore, if your condition worsens, there is a risk of an Achilles tendon rupture. If this occurs, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon who will most likely recommend surgery to repair the ruptured tendon. This surgical procedure involves making an incision in your leg above the heel bone and suturing the two ends of the ruptured tendon.
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