Most people often don't think about feet until something goes wrong. This is especially true if you're an athlete who spends a lot of time on hard courts or on grass, planting, spinning and lifting off your feet. All that activity may cause a condition known as Achilles tendonitis, which will result in pain to the heel of your foot. If you've been diagnosed with this condition, here are five things to know that can help you deal with the problem.
1. What Is It? -- Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon that connects your heel to your calf becomes inflamed or swollen. Typically, podiatrists will define the tendonitis as either insertional or non-insertional. Insertional tendonitis occurs where the tendon and the heel are connected. Non-insertional tendonitis occurs above the ankle, and is most often diagnosed by visible swelling and distension.
2. What Causes It? -- Though many active people view Achilles tendonitis as a 'freak' injury, the truth is that it's typically a gradual process that comes as a result of pressure and strain placed on the tendon. Athletes who add more rigorous activities to their usual routine can increase the stress on the tendon. Tight muscles in the calf and bone spurs are also known to trigger tendonitis.
3. What Will I Feel? -- The most common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis are swelling, pain and decreased range of motion in your ankle and heel. This pain can sometimes be sharp or it can be a steady pain that doesn't abate. Typically, tendonitis will feel worse after physical activity. One thing to look out for is that if you hear a 'popping' sound and feel immediate pain, you may have a ruptured tendon and not tendonitis.
4. What Tests Can Confirm It? -- Tendonitis can be confirmed by X-rays or by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Because X-rays only show bone images, they can provide information to indicate the level of bone hardness around the tendon. MRIs are more detailed, and can show the state of the tendon, and if there is a partial tear, which may require you to cease all activities until the tear heals. Find an expert, like those at Central Utah Foot Clinic, who can decide which tools are best for diagnosing your injury.
5. What Is the Treatment Plan? -- Tendonitis isn't as severe as a rupture, but it will require you to take some weeks off to let the tendon heal. One of the most effective treatment methods is R.I.C.E., which is an acronym for rest/ice/compression/elevation. This four-in-one method will reduce take pressure off the tendon, reduce swelling and promote increased blood flow to your foot. Anti-inflammatories are also prescribed to control pain, and once the tendon begins to heal, you can start light stretching and physical therapy.