The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, connecting the heel bone to the calf muscles. While this tendon can withstand tremendous stress, it can be injured by overuse, leading to inflammation and possible degeneration. Inflammation of the tendon is known as “Achilles Tendinitis.” Chronic inflammation in this tendon is known as “Achilles Tendonosis.”
Many Achilles tendon injuries can be managed at home with basic R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. However, some sports-related Achilles tendon injuries may require medical intervention.
Questions About Your Achilles Tendon Pain
- Does your Achilles tendon hurt when you run?
- Has a physician or coach ever told you that you have Achilles tendinitis/tendinosis?
- Have you tried seeing multiple doctors for pain relief?
- Have you already tried steroid injections in your Achilles tendon, disappointed with the short-term results?
- Have you taken a break from athletic activity? Did you find that the pain in your Achilles tendon flared up as soon as you got back to exercising?
- Do you desire a non-surgical alternative that treats the Achilles tendon once and for all?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it might be time to schedule an appointment with a sports medicine physician at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute. Learn more about how sports medicine doctors at Hedley may be able to diagnose and treat pain in the Achilles tendon without the use of surgery.
Diagnosing Pain in the Achilles Tendon
During your appointment at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute, your sports medicine physician will ask you about your symptoms, medical history, and past treatments (if any). Next, your physician may examine your foot and ankle. During the physical examination, your physician is looking for bone spurs, swelling, thickening, and enlargement of the Achilles tendon. Your physician will also note your response to pressure in the middle of the tendon and at the back of the heel.
If necessary, further diagnostic imaging tests, such as an x-ray or MRI, may be performed. These images may be helpful for patients undergoing platelet-rich plasma injections or stem cell injections for their Achilles heel pain.
Treating Achilles Tendon Pain
At Hedley Orthopaedic Institute, sports medicine physicians treat Achilles tendon pain using advanced, cutting-edge technologies. These non-surgical procedures include:
- Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections: Growth factors from the patient’s own blood platelets are used to restore degenerated tissues
- Amniotic Membrane Stem Cell Injections: Growth factors, hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory agents taken from donor cells in the amniotic sac are used to stimulate growth and healing
These non-surgical Achilles tendon pain treatments are currently at the forefront of sports medicine. With PRP and/or stem cell injections, many patients with moderate to severe Achilles tendon pain (and degeneration) are able to get the relief they need to get back in the game. One reason these treatments are so beneficial for many patients is that they don’t just reduce inflammation – they take the next step by helping the tendon grow.
In addition to these non-surgical therapies, surgeons at Hedley Orthopaedic Institute perform surgical repairs of tendon, muscle, and ligament. Learn more.
Stretches for Achilles Tendon Pain
If you’ve been diagnosed with Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis, you can take care of yourself at home with these stretches. If you have any questions about how to perform these stretches, ask your physician.
- Stand on the edge of a step with your mid-foot (not toes). With your knee straight, slowly lower your heel, stretching the gastrocnemius (part of the calf muscle). Only lower the affected leg; use both legs to stand up. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch, but with your knee slightly bent. This stretches the soleus (the other part of the calf muscle).
Be sure to review any new stretches with your doctor beforehand, so as to avoid interfering with the recovery process. These stretches can also be used for pain caused by plantar fasciosis.
Schedule Your Sports Med Appointment in Phoenix, Mesa or Tempe
Don’t let pain in your Achilles tendon keep you from doing the activities you love. Schedule an appointment with a sports medicine physician in Phoenix, Mesa, or Tempe through Hedley Orthopaedic Institute. Your sports medicine physician can go over the surgical and non-surgical treatment options available to you. Contact a location near you to schedule your appointment.