Learn How to Deal with Achilles Tendon Pain In the Morning
Are you experiencing pain and stiffness in the area of the Achilles tendon when you wake up in the morning?
If your answer is yes, you might be suffering from Achilles Tendonitis.
Achilles Tendonitis can be a serious problem for members of all generations no matter how active they are, although it is more present with people who put this area under great stresses during the intensive exercise.
If you want to find out more about Achilles Tendonitis and learn how to deal with Achilles tendon pain in the morning, read on.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is, in essence, inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendon is the longest tendon in the human body which connects the heel bone to the muscles of your calf. When this tendon is irritated in some way, or it becomes inflamed, you can experience pain in this area.
The Achilles tendon is used when we perform ordinary activities such as walking, running, going up and down the stairs and jumping. It can take a lot of abuse, but at some point, this tendon does become overused which can lead to its degeneration and tendonitis.
When the inflammation occurs, it is actually a response your body gives to a certain injury or some kind of disease. The pain is often accompanied by swelling as well. The pain occurs in one of the two points in this region - in the point of connection between the tendon and the heel bone (the Achilles tendon insertion), or within the actual tendon.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
As already mentioned, swelling, irritation, and pain in this area are the main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. The pain related to the Achilles tendonitis usually occurs in the morning. When a person with this condition gets up in the morning and stands on the affected foot, he or she feels a sharp pain and stiffness along the Achilles tendon or the back of the heel.
The pain tends to get worse when people are active. If a person exercises, the pain is usually the worst the day after their training session. If there is a swelling in the affected area, it also tends to get worse during the increased activity and during the day.
Different parts of the Achilles tendon can be inflamed, and thus people can feel pain and irritation in different areas as well. If your tendon has begun degenerating in the middle part, it is a case of noninsertional Achilles tendonitis. This type of tendonitis is caused by small tears of fibers which are positioned in this middle portion of the Achilles tendon. This condition is more common in the young and fairly active part of the population.
The other type is called insertional Achilles tendonitis, and it affects the area in which the tendon connects to the heel bone. Therefore, the pain is felt in the lower portion of the heel.
Both types of Achilles tendonitis can be accompanied by complications such as calcification or hardening of the damaged tendon fibers, and unnatural bone growth, the so-called bone spurs.
Although Achilles tendonitis can affect people of all ages no matter how active or not they are, most often it is directly caused by the overly abuse of the tendon, and thus the professional athletes bear the greatest risk.
If the situation complicates and it comes to the Bone spur (insertional tendonitis), you will experience a constant swelling in the area which will get worse as the day progresses, or when you become more active.
The Achilles tendon can be torn or ruptured too. If this happens to you, you will feel an abrupt "pop" in the area at the back of your calf, or lower - near your heel. This calls for immediate medical attention, and therefore a doctor has to be consulted as soon as possible.
How do you diagnose and treat Achilles Tendonitis
Once your doctor suspects that you suffer from the Achilles tendonitis, he or she will most probably order additional diagnostic procedures such as an X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). In this way, you too will be 100% certain if your condition is really related to the Achilles tendon.
X-ray shows images of the bones, and if the Achilles tendon has hardened or become calcified, your doctor will be able to see that as well. MRI is not mandatory for the Achilles tendonitis diagnosis, but if your case is more severe and requires surgical treatment, the doctor might order it so that he can evaluate the amount of tendon damage precisely.
However, most often, the Achilles tendonitis is treated non-surgically. Patients are given pain relief medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen and asked to take rest. This means that if you suffer from this condition, you need to minimize your daily activities, especially those which put the strain on this part of your body or increase your pain.
If you need to stay active opt for activities that put less stress on the Achilles tendon such as swimming or riding a bike.
If you find the pain overwhelming, and painkillers do not eliminate it completely, you can place an ice pack on the area which hurts the most. Remember that this treatment can last up to twenty minutes at a time, so do not overdo it but rather repeat it several times a day.
There are certain exercises that can help you reduce the pain and speed up recovery. Calf stretch exercise will, for example, help you make the calf muscles stronger which will diminish the stress on the Achilles tendon too.
Physical therapy is also a good option to treat the Achilles tendonitis. It has better results when it comes to treating the non-insertional tendonitis though. Cortisone injection can also be prescribed to reduce the inflammation.
The treatment is almost always quite long and can last up to six months. The duration will depend on the time you took before seeking the treatment, so do ask for help as soon as you feel the symptoms.
The choice of shoes you will wear for walking or exercising can also greatly influence the condition. Supportive shoes and orthotics will speed up the recovery and relieve the pain.Your doctor can recommend to get the best shoes for Achilles tendonitis - such shoes are most often softer at the back. And if you are an active runner, I suggest using running shoes that prevent Achilles tendinitis and ensure the longevity of your Achilles' tendons.
Best walking shoes for Achilles tendonitis are not the only option to rely on; you can also ask your physician to recommend best insoles for Achilles tendonitis. Heel lifts take off the extra strain off the Achilles tendon, but also serve to move your heel away from the back of the shoe and thus prevent the rubbing which causes the added irritation.
If you do not feel better after six months of treatment, your doctor might consider surgery too.There are different types of surgery depending on the amount of damage and location of the tendonitis. Most people handle the achilles tendon surgery well and have no further complications. The recovery takes up to a year, but some patients can never fully dedicate to sports again, especially if they were professionals.
Physical therapy is an integral part of the post-surgery recovery process. Extra care is needed to avoid wound infection as it is very hard to treat due to its location.
How to prevent Achilles tendonitis
As mentioned previously, the Achilles tendonitis is not commonly related to a specific injury but rather results from continuous stress to the tendon. It is a sure sign that you have pushed your body beyond its limits, and the best way to avoid such a scenario is to listen to your body’s needs and make sure that they are met in a timely manner.
Avoid sudden increases in your daily activity, especially if your exercise routine is already pretty intense and demanding. If you jog every day and consider yourself to be in top physical condition, that does not give you the right to double the distance whenever you feel like it. Your body will not be able to adjust that quickly, and that might result in various injuries including the Achilles tendonitis.
The risk of developing the Achilles tendonitis is greater when you already have tight calf muscles as that puts the additional stress on this tendon. Therefore, in such situations avoid exercising or at least minimize it as much as possible.