Achilles tendonitis simply translates into inflammation of the achilles tendon. This can be caused by any number of things and usually manifests itself with pain behind the heel possibly going up into the calf. Determining the cause will help prevent the tendonitis from returning once cured, and a thorough evaluation by a qualified sports medicine physician will go a long way in finding the cause. Fortunately, the cause has little effect on the treatment. Regardless of the cause, the treatment of achilles tendonitis includes rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medications. If you have just read the section above this on plantar fasciitis, this will sound eerily familiar. The same things used to treat plantar fasciitis are also used to treat Achilles tendonitis.
Rest is often the most difficult aspect because, lets face it, we half to walk. So, rather than stay off your feet for a week (granted that might seem like a great idea) you lift the heel. Lifting the heel reduces the stress transferred to the Achilles tendon, reducing the amount of aggravation caused. This way, even though you are on your feet, the Achilles tendon is getting a break. The heel lift doesn't have to be very high, _" to _" is all that is needed to provide some significant pain relief. The Sports Medicine Shop has several varieties to choose from. Visit the foot section on the web site to check prices and descriptions.
Athletic trainer's go to school for four years to learn that if something swells, put ice on it. (I'm a certified athletic trainer, so I can say that. In good humor of course.) Ice is so simple a treatment, people forget that it is also a tremendously useful tool. While ice doesn't reduce the inflammation that's already there, it will prevent more from accumulating. While the inflammatory response is necessary for healing and the body is excellent at getting it geared up, it's not so good at stopping it or getting rid of it once it's there. Ice prevents the inflammation from getting too out of hand. Wrap the Achilles tendon in ice for twenty to thirty minutes every two hours, or as close to that as you can get. Even once or twice a day for half an hour is better than nothing, and will provide some excellent benefits. If ice is too inconvenient, get a gel cold pack, not the instant kind. There is a common misconception that the gel ice packs are not as cold as ice. The truth is just the opposite. Since gel doesn't freeze solid until extremely low temperatures, it is able to absorb more cold energy and get colder than ice, which is able to reach only 32 degrees. However, since the gel packs get so cold, you need to remember to put a small cloth between the pack and your skin, or you may find yourself with a nasty ice burn. A pillowcase is an excellent cover for the gel ice packs.
Anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful, but should be taken under the direction of a physician. Talk to your physician about the possible benefits these medications could provide.
To allow the achilles to heal in a functional position while you sleep, we recommend using a night splint. This is a device that is worn while you sleep that keeps the foot from dropping. Thus the Achilles tendon remains stretched while you sleep allowing healing to take place with your foot in a functional position. The night splint is a tremendously effective tool in treating achilles tendonitis and we highly recommend using it until the condition is completely healed. The night splint appears somewhat bulky, but is easily adapted to and can reduce the amount of time it takes for the problem to heal.