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Achilles tendinitis: Causes and Treatments

What is Achilles tendinitis? 

Achilles tendinitis is a painful condition that can occur in the tendons of the calf muscle. It's the most common cause of heel pain and overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis and IT band syndrome. This tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It is a problem that usually affects people with weak and tight muscles in the lower body. In most cases, Achilles tendinitis will disappear without treatment within three to five days.  

However, if you have severe pain or swelling around your ankle for more than two weeks, it may indicate a more severe condition called chronic Achilles tendinopathy or jumper's knee. Achilles tendinitis is also known as Achilles tendonitis, Achilles tenosynovitis, or tendinosis. This condition causes a lot of inflammation, so the primary treatment would be to apply some ice pack and massage your heels with a cooling foot gel.  

Symptoms: 

Symptoms for this condition vary depending on where the tendon damage occurs and how severe it is. Most people who experience mild pain associated with Achilles tendinitis will notice tenderness while they walk or run on uneven surfaces like stairs and hillsides. However, more severe pain may occur when walking downhill on rough terrain. Some of the more symptoms are: 

  • Mild ache on the back of the leg or above the heel 
  • Pain when moving your ankle inward or outward 
  • Pain on the top of your foot near your heel (heel spur syndrome) 
  • Swelling along the outside of your ankle and lower leg (inflammation)  
  • Tenderness at the top of your heel 
Causes: 

The exact cause of Achilles tendinitis is unknown, but it can be caused by overuse or injury to this crucial tendon. For example, you can develop Achilles tendinitis from walking or running too much or from poor biomechanics during exercise, such as jumping or turning quickly. Certain sports, such as soccer and basketball, may also cause tears in the tendon due to repetitive stress. 

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Achilles tendinitis occurs when your body's connective tissue, including tendons, becomes inflamed. This can be caused by the following: 

- Repetitive stress on the ankle joint and Achilles tendon. Repetitive use of this area may lead to irritation and overuse injuries, including Achilles tendinitis. 

- Overuse due to an imbalance in strength and flexibility between your calf muscles and ankle joints. This imbalance can affect how much weight you can bear during physical activity, affecting how much stress you put on your ankle joint when running or cycling. 

- Injury from overtraining or poor form during exercise (such as running). If you run too long or fast without warming up properly, you could strain or tear any muscle or ligament. To avoid any severity, you can immediately see a doctor and apply some cooling foot gel before sleeping.  

- A weakened tendon that's not able to support your foot properly. 

- An injury to the tendon or surrounding muscles. 

When shall you see a doctor? 

Instead of delaying and applying the wrong treatment, it is always recommended to check with a doctor. Even after 3-5 days, if you are experiencing severe pain around the muscle, check with your doctor.  

Risk factors: 

There are a couple of things that can increase Achilles tendinitis pain: 

  • Obesity and tight calf muscles are the main factors stimulating this condition.  
  • A naturally flat arch can cause more strain on the muscle.  
  • Poor training choices and irregular shoe habits 
  • Running in torn shoes 
  • Cold weather or walking in a hilly region 
  • People with psoriasis and high blood pressure are at higher risk of developing this condition. 
  • Frequent consumption of certain antibiotics like fluoroquinolones can worsen the situation. 

Can Achilles tendinitis be cured at home? 

If the injury is minimal, it can be easily cured at home within a week. However, even if you experience persistent pain, take doctor-prescribed medications and follow some home remedies to get rid of the pain. 

Foot massage: 

After icing, an effective foot massage is one of the most effective remedies for this condition. Start with an aromatic oil therapy and apply a gel at the end. Foot gel will help calm down the inflamed muscles. Switch to a chemical-free moisturizing gel like Dr Foot's heel pain gel. This foot gel contains Salicylic acid that nourishes cracked heels and minimizes calluses buildup. 

Castor oil: 

From stomach pain to dandruff, this plant-based oil is used to treat several complicated ailments. Castor oil is a triglyceride that contains 90% ricinoleic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient. This acid helps relieve the inflammation in the muscle. 

Vitamin E oil: 

Packed with antioxidants, Vitamin E Oil reduces free radical damage and smoothens the blood circulation in the inflamed muscle area. 

Turmeric: 

This wonder spice is a must addition to your Achilles Tendon pain treatment. The presence of Curcumin activates the opioid system (linked to our body's pain-relieving response) and eases the stress on the muscle. 

Avoid Tobacco: 

Smoking and tobacco consumption decreases the blood supply and inhibits the healing process.