Achilles tendon pain is a common problem for many athletes and non-athletes alike. It can range from mild soreness to severe pain that prevents you from participating in any physical activities. So, what causes Achilles tendon pain and what can be done to prevent or treat it?
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, making it the largest and strongest tendon in your body. It's used heavily in activities like running, jumping, and walking. Thus, overuse or repetitive strain can cause Achilles tendonitis, which is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. This increases stress on the area, leading to pain and tenderness.
Tight calf muscles can also cause Achilles tendon pain, as it can reduce the blood flow to the area and cause an overload of stress. Poor footwear can also contribute to this type of injury, as well as any sudden changes in your physical activity or training routine.
If you do experience Achilles tendon pain, rest is key for treatment. Stretching and icing the area can also help reduce inflammation. Medication such as ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help too.
If you prefer not to take an oral anti-inflammatory, you can use a topical anti-inflammatory called Mod Pod Soothe. Soothe is a pain-relieving stick that contains 1000mg of CBD, arnica, eucalyptus, and lavender oils. This ultra-potent combination will reduce pain for a minimum of 4 hours. If you want effective pain relief without the CBD, Mod Pod Recover is a great option!
In more severe cases, immobilization is required, followed by physical therapy to strengthen the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and surrounding area. Laser therapy can also be used to reduce inflammation and speed up the recovery process. Laser therapy uses concentrated light energy to stimulate the body’s own healing process to minimize pain, inflammation and promote healing. Most patients feel a 75% reduction in pain after just six laser treatments!
For chronic cases of Achilles tendonitis, we may recommend a PRP injection. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy works to reduce inflammation and pain by injecting your body’s own platelets into a targeted area to help heal the area with your body’s own cells. Platelets are the “fixer-upper” cells of the body. They are the first line of response when you have an injury. They form a clot and release growth factor proteins to signal the body to heal. This allows the pain to decrease rapidly as it facilitates the reduction in inflammation and heals the tissues.
PRP can speed up healing of soft tissues and can have more of a long-term healing effect compared to steroid injections, which do not contribute to tissue healing outside of the anti-inflammatory effect.
Prevention is always the best cure for Achilles tendon pain, so it's important to take some preventative measures before you start any physical activity. Be sure to stretch your calves daily and warm-up properly before any exercise routine. Also, ensure you have proper footwear that provides adequate support and cushioning for your feet. Make sure that you choose supportive and non-flexible shoes such as Brooks, Asics, or New Balance. Finally, if you do experience any pain related to your Achilles tendon, stop what you're doing and take some rest.
The good news is that Achilles tendon pain is highly treatable. In many cases, following a few simple steps can help reduce or eliminate the pain and get you back to your regular routine. Listen to your body and don't push it too hard. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve talked about in this post, don’t wait – call us at 859-264-1141 or schedule an appointment online with our team today. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan that gets you back on your feet as quickly as possible.