Ankle > Achilles Tendinitis > Treatments

 Rest, Ice, Medication, Proper Footwear

Home Recovery

To heal Achilles tendinitis, physicians generally prescribe a combination of the following treatments:

   Rest and activity modification – Relative rest is generally prescribed to treat Achilles tendinitis. You do not necessarily have to stay off your feet, but you should decrease the duration and intensity of your walking and running. Switching from a running to a non-running sport, such as swimming, can reduce stress to the Achilles tendon. Workouts involving hills or sprinting should be avoided.

   Ice – Applying ice to your heel for about 20 minutes three to four times a day can help reduce the inflammation, especially after activity or therapy.

   Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, are sometimes prescribed to reduce pain and swelling for seven to 14 days.

   Stretching – Successful treatment often requires routine foot and ankle stretching two or three times a day. Your physician or physical therapist can usually show you a stretching routine to perform at home. Physical therapy tends to be prescribed for more severe cases of Achilles tendinitis. Before walking, it is often helpful to stretch the back of your lower leg, by pulling your toes back with your knee straight and your ankle flexed towards you. Avoid excessive stretching until your tendon pain decreases.

   Proper footwear – Shoes should have a stable heel, a well-cushioned sole, and an adequate arch support, depending on what type of foot you have. Many dress shoes do not have adequate arch support and strain the Achilles tendon. Your physician can recommend the type of shoe that provides the best support for the shape of your foot. Physicians often suggest that patients wear padded sandals around the house instead of going barefoot.

   Orthotics/shoe inserts – Your physician may suggest that you wear orthotic inserts in your shoes to properly support your foot. These inserts usually have an arch support and a cushioned heel lift. Depending on the shape of your foot, you may be able to buy an over-the-counter heel cup or shoe insert, or your physician may prescribe custom molded orthotic inserts. Most people are instructed to wear the inserts for at least six weeks.

   Braces – For severe or chronic tendinitis, some patients wear a splint or cast to immobilize their ankle.

   Heat therapy – Whirlpool treatments, heat lamps, hot showers, heating pads, heat ointments, and other therapies like ultrasound stimulation may be suggested by your physician.

To heal Achilles tendinitis as quickly as possible and return to activities, your physician may recommend that you schedule regular visits to a physical therapist. However, many patients can strengthen their ankles without formal therapy.

Rehabilitation [top]

Your physician and physical therapist can design a customized rehabilitation program with specific stretching and strengthening exercises for your calf muscles and feet. Most physicians recommend a comprehensive leg-strengthening program to improve your overall endurance and flexibility. Rehabilitation exercises can usually begin when you can walk comfortably without pain, which varies depending on your body’s ability to heal and the extent of tendon damage. Icing your Achilles tendon for 10 minutes before and after exercise sessions may help reduce the swelling and discomfort. Rehab usually begins with stretching exercises for a period of weeks until your Achilles tendon is flexible. Try to hold stretches for about 30 seconds and repeat as pain allows. Strength training usually starts within a month. Initially, you will probably perform light exercises, including picking objects off the floor with your toes and flexing and extending your ankle. The resistance gradually increases as your tendon heals. You can usually return to activities when the range of motion and strength are equal in the injured and healthy ankle, when you can jog, sprint, and cut side-to-side without pain, and you can jump and land without pain.


   Achilles tendinitis rehabilitation exercises.

 Prevention [top]

Overuse and overtraining put you at high risk for recurring Achilles tendinitis. Physicians generally recommend that you avoid repetitive activities that put constant strain on your Achilles tendon. Try to incorporate cross-training into your workout schedule. For example, instead of running every day, alternate between running and swimming workouts. Warm up before participating in activities and stretch your calf muscles and feet both before and after activities. You should increase the duration and intensity of your workouts by no more than 10 percent per week and avoid serious sprinting and hill climbing until you have worked up to a high fitness level. Choose athletic shoes that properly fit the shape of your foot. Continue to wear orthotic inserts and heel lifts if recommended by your physician. If your ankle starts to hurt during exercise, you should return to your physician’s office for a check-up.

Rest, Ice, Medication, Proper Footwear
   Home Recovery
Surgical Debridement

Copyright 2007 | Insall Scott Kelly® Institute. All Rights Reserved.