Facts on Achilles Strain

4774344sean/iStock/Getty Images

Strain Happens for Many Reasons

Achilles tendonitis or achilles strain is an inflammation of the Achilles tendon, the tendon that connects your calf muscle to your heal bone. Overuse may cause this inflammation, and inflammation can be chronic. Some factors that may contribute to Achilles strain are walking or running up hill or on hard surfaces, or training too hard. Carrying too much weight or wearing high heels may also aggravate it.

Acute or Chronic Achilles Strain Needs Attention

Acute Achilles strain symptoms are brought on by exercise, but chronic Achilles strain symptoms are often temporarily relieved by it. If you experience pain and stiffness in your Achilles tendon when you get up in the morning and you have to take your time to stretch it out, you are most likely suffering from chronic Achilles strain. In this case stretching and exercise can alleviate pain.

If you only notice pain while walking up hills or stairs, you may be suffering from an acute case of strain which would require you to take time off from exercise. Talk to your doctor, in either case you'll want to get treatment.

Relief is the First Priority

Rest your tendon after an injury so that you do not further injure the tendon. Taking the time to apply ice will relieve some inflammation and some of the soreness as well. A doctor might also prescribe drugs to reduce the inflammation and he may even send you to physical therapy. Here, you may get ultrasound, or electronic stimulation therapy, while learning and doing exercises to strengthen your tendon.

Fashion Footwear for Achilles Strain

Set aside all the latest fashion footwear trends; you won't be wearing them any time soon. There are a few things to try to help an Achilles tendon heal. A soft ankle brace is fairly comfortable and helps you keep from over extending your tendon, thereby limiting the amount of re-injury. Before heading out, especially if you'll be doing a lot of walking, be sure to strap on your brace. You also might want to try a heal wedge in your athletic shoe to take some pressure off your tendon temporarily. You can find heel wedges at most drug stores. If you choose to do this, stretch the tendon slowly over time to avoid re-injury. You may even want to take the heal wedge down in steps.

Strain Can Lead to Pain

Think Achilles strain is no big deal? Think again. Achilles strain can lead to Achilles tendon rupture, which happens when the tendon gets so weak it actually snaps. If this occurs, you can look forward to months in a full leg cast, followed by at least three months in a walking cast while you get physical therapy. Surgery is an alternative, but you'll still need to wear a cast for at least six weeks, then the three months in a walking cast while getting PT.