Your feet and ankles bear the weight of your entire body. When something goes wrong with just one foot or ankle, it can significantly impact your daily activities.
Ankle pain or discomfort can occur from an overuse or trauma injury. In particular, pain above the heel is typically associated with a condition called Achilles tendonitis. If you experience this kind of pain after using your feet for any activity, it’s time to talk with an ankle specialist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
Your largest tendon, which is located at the back of your lower leg, is called the Achilles tendon. This tendon connects the heel bone and calf muscles and is essential to your foot’s range of motion, specifically with plantar flexion (when your foot is pointed away from your leg). It supports the movement of the triceps surae muscles, which are found behind your leg, and other nearby muscles.
Overusing or overworking your Achilles tendon can result in inflammation or Achilles tendonitis. An ankle specialist can diagnose and help you address this condition. With their supervision, you may treat it with simple, at-home treatments and medication. They can also give you medical advice about self-care strategies you can practice to avoid a repeat injury.
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms
During your consultation, an ankle specialist or a podiatrist will ask you about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam to determine a diagnosis. They can also order diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions.
Pain and Swelling
The inflammation results in swelling and is accompanied by pain, which are the most common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. It often starts with mild pain just above the heel or lower leg after any physical activity involving your feet. More severe pain may occur from intense or prolonged exercise, walking uphill, or sprinting.
An ankle specialist will gently press around the area of your Achilles tendon to determine the location of the pain and swelling.
Because the Achilles tendon is large, an injury can cause problems for the whole leg. The pain and swelling may result in difficulties with walking and affect the strength of your legs.
Stiffness or Tenderness
People with Achilles tendonitis also feel stiffness or tenderness near their heels. This can happen in the morning or after a period of inactivity, and may improve with gentle or mild activity.
An ankle specialist will feel and gently press the area near your Achilles tendon to identify the location of tenderness. Pressing on the tendon may also produce a creaking sound.
Risk Factors and Causes
In addition to your symptoms, your doctor may ask you about some risk factors of the condition. Identifying these risk factors can help them give you advice for self-care to avoid a repeat injury, as well as create a personalized treatment plan.
Training and Exercise Choices
Achilles tendonitis is common in athletes who suddenly increase the duration or intensity of their routines. Training or running in cold weather or on hilly terrain can also increase your risk for tendon injuries. Make sure to warm-up before performing strenuous activities.
Poor-fitting or worn-out shoes can’t support your feet properly. Using these can increase your risk of Achilles tendonitis. Wear proper shoes with adequate support for your activity.
Medical Conditions and Medications
High blood pressure and psoriasis are two conditions that make people more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis. If you have heel spurs, these can rub on the tendon and cause irritation. Fluoroquinolone, an antibiotic, is also linked to the condition.
Treating Achilles Tendonitis
After giving you a diagnosis, an ankle specialist will discuss your treatment options with you.
- Pause any activity that aggravates pain and swelling.
- RICE therapy. Rest, icing, compression, and elevation can help alleviate pain and swelling.
- Your doctor can recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can address both pain and swelling. If over-the-counter options don’t provide adequate relief, consult your doctor about prescription-strength medications.
- Physical therapy. Your podiatrist and therapist will craft an exercise program to aid in your recovery process. This involves range of motion and strengthening exercises, as well as the use of orthotic devices for support.
- Should the pain and swelling persist despite using nonsurgical options, your doctor may recommend surgery to treat Achilles tendonitis.
Ankle Specialist in San Antonio, Texas
Foot and ankle pain can significantly impact your daily activities, performance, and productivity. If you have the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis, talk to an ankle specialist to avoid complications like a ruptured tendon.
Here at The Podiatry Group of South Texas, we have an excellent team of podiatrists who can help with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of various foot and ankle conditions. We are committed to providing our patients with quality care and comfort.