Achilles Tendonitis

by Dr. Jason Barker January 24, 2017

It’s estimated that Achilles tendonitis accounts for around 11% of all running injuries. The Achilles is the large tendon at the back of the ankle. It connects the big calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) to the heel bone (Calcaneous) and provides the power every time you push off when walking and especially running.

Because of this, the Achilles bears a lot of weight (it basically supports your entire body weight as it propels you forward) and as such is prone to injury, especially in runners.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can start as a small pain in the lower part of the tendon, but can quickly become more of a problem.  Achilles tendonitis symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the lower part of the tendon, although it can happen right where it inserts into the heel, and farther up where the tendon emerges from the calf muscles
  • People often describe the pain as "burning"
  • The tendon becomes stiffer at rest, especially the longer one has tendonitis
  • Tightness and pain in the morning, especially with the first few steps.  As the tendon warms up, the pain goes away.  In fact, many times people can run without pain even though the tendon is inflamed (p.s. this is a bad idea!)
  • Chronically inflamed achilles tendons will develop nodules, or bumps at specific sites of inflammation

Diagnosis And Causes Of Achilles Tendonitis

Diagnosis of achilles tendonitis is pretty easy; a painful achilles tendon that improves with warming up.  You don't need any specialized testing to figure this one out.

The achilles bears a lot of weight and can take a lot of punishment - until it becomes inflamed. About 90% of the time people get tendonitis from increasing their running mileage too much, too rapidly. It happens to new and seasoned runners alike.

Achilles Tendonitis Treatment

The first thing you should do as soon as you are aware of achilles tendon pain or inflammation, is give it a rest. Connective tissues (tendons, ligaments) have relatively poor blood supplies, and take a long time to heal.

Don't be a hero and 'work through it'. All you're doing is prolonging the injury, and setting yourself up for long-term inflammation, which is then called 'achilles tendinosis'. Tendinosis, or teninopathy, is beyond the inflammation stage, and tendon tissue begins to degenerate.

This is really not good, and can mean many, many months or even years before it heals again. And when you're at this stage, the tendon is much more prone to tearing and even detachment, which means surgical repair. People rarely make it back to pain free running from there.

Here's what you should do for achilles tendonitis treatment:

  • Stop running.  Go swimming, take yoga, ride your bike. Do something, anything, other than running!
  • Negative calf raises
  • Ice your tendon for about 10 minutes after you do the negative calf raises. Do the calf raises followed by ice twice a day
  • Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs will actually prevent repair of tendinosis and tendinopathy. Standard medical care is going to tell you to take this stuff for achilles tendonitis treatment. It may feel good in the short term, but trust me, it won't help in the long run.

How To Relieve Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis treatment, when done early and aggressively, is the best way to take care of it before it gets out of control and becomes chronic. Rest, stretch, ice and natural anti-inflammatories will get you back on your feet faster than anything else!

The following are the most effective natural anti-inflammatories you can find:

  • Ligament Restore: Provides the basic nutrients to help strengthen and rebuild tendons and ligaments. It also contains pain-relieving botanical medicines.
  • Fish Oils have strong anti-inflammatory effects (similar to ibuprofen, in fact!). We recommend that nearly everyone take fish oil to control all forms of inflammation.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Formula is a natural version of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). It works well at directly controlling inflammation.
  • Wobenzym and  Systemic Enzyme Complex will speed tissue repair and decrease pain. 
Dr. Jason Barker
Dr. Jason Barker



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