According to the University of Michigan Health System, Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury of the heel cord that includes tendonitis and tendinosis. Achilles tendon injuries are painful and slow to heal, especially if surgery is needed. Minor Achilles tendon injuries can heal in just a few weeks, while more serious injuries could take several months. Proper diagnosis and treatment are important to recovery.
The Achilles tendon is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the two major calf muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. When Achilles tendinopathy develops, the major symptoms are pain and swelling in the heel and calf. Overuse, repetitive strain on the tendon, tight calf muscles and greatly increasing the amount or intensity of sports training can cause Achilles tendinopathy. Athletes participating in sports with sudden starts and stops and long-distance runners are especially susceptible to Achilles tendon injury.
If you experience severe pain and swelling in your Achilles tendon, see your health-care provider immediately. Your physician will thoroughly examine your Achilles heel and calf to look for redness, tenderness and swelling. Your physician may ask to watch your feet while you walk or run to determine if you overpronate, or roll your feet inward. Proper diagnosis is important to determine the exact cause of injury.
The University of Michigan Health System recommends a tendonitis treatment program that includes rest, ice, elevation and anti-inflammatory medicine as prescribed by a doctor. Rest your Achilles heel, and refrain from strenuous sports activity. Apply ice packs to the affected area for 20 to 30 minutes three to four times a day. Raise your lower leg by putting a pillow underneath it while lying down. Anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen can help alleviate swelling and tenderness. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage may also help heal the Achilles tendon. Proper tendonitis treatment can help speed recovery.
If the tendon is only mildly inflamed, tendonitis recovery can come quickly. Mild cases of Achilles tendonitis can heal in just a few weeks. For more severe injuries, surgery may be necessary to reattach the tendon. Recovery can be a lengthy process that may take several months to completely heal. Either way, you should rest the tendon and refrain from sports activity. Generally, the longer you've had symptoms before starting treatment, the longer your tendonitis recovery may take.
According to iTendonitis.com, proper warm-up and stretching before exercise can help prevent Achilles tendon injuries. If your calves and tendons are tight, stretch them twice a day whether or not you exercise. Slowly increase your sports training, especially on hills and stairs, to prevent injury. As soon as you feel any pain or swelling in your Achilles tendon, rest your tendon and refrain from sports activity. See a medical professional, and begin a treatment regimen immediately.