So you finally got together with the guys on Saturday for that long-awaited 3-on-3 basketball game at your local park. It was fun to see how many of your shots swished through the hoop, and you went all out and (surprise!) got more rebounds than your friend who used to play center in high school. Now it’s Sunday morning, and you get another surprise: you notice an aching and stiffness at the back of your ankle when you get out of bed. What is it? You are likely a victim of a common ailment that 30-something guys face all the time: “weekend warrior’s” Achilles tendinitis.
Achilles Tendon Pain Reasons for Tendon Problems
Most cases of inflamed tendons are caused by overuse—either an extra-long run, workout, or hike that you aren’t used to, or overdoing it after sitting at a desk most of the week. Other factors can be involved as well, though: if you have flat feet, if you overpronate when you walk or run, or if your calf muscles are tight and put too much tension on the Achilles.
When the Achilles is irritated by unusual stress, it can become inflamed (tendinitis), and if this happens too often, the fibers of the tendon can begin to break down (tendinosis). Both conditions can cause pain in that ropy cord at the back of your ankle.
How to Identify Tendon Problems
Pain is the first indicator that something is wrong. It can start as a mild ache as in the scenario we outlined above. This is most often felt at the back of your foot just above the heel. If you don’t take care of the issue, it will increase into soreness during and after activity, and tenderness or intense pain when it is squeezed on the sides.
The pain will be worse when resuming movement after rest (morning, after sitting for long periods). It may loosen up and feel better with mild activity, but often returns when you play or run again. Later, if the tendon begins to degenerate and forms scar tissue as it attempts to heal, it can become enlarged and develop little bumps which might even be visible from the outside. Continued deterioration could cause the tissue to rupture completely.
Treating Tendinitis Pain in Warren & South Plainfield, NJ
As with most foot issues, it pays not to wait to see if it will resolve on its own with rest. We can take a look at your foot to determine the extent of the damage and outline the correct treatment protocol to get you back in the game as soon as it is safely healed.
There are a couple of things you can do at home, like resting your foot, staying off it as much as possible, and applying ice packs for 15 minutes 2 or 3 times a day. If the case is very mild, and you hold off on resuming sports activity for a while, this may take care of your problem.
A more serious case may require one of the following:
Immobilization with a cast or walking boot to reduce stress on the tendon
Oral medications that help relieve inflammation as well as pain (we may prescribe NSAIDs like ibuprofen)
Physical therapy, including massage, strengthening and stretching exercises, ultrasound, or retraining your gait (your foot movement while you run)
Once the injury has healed, we may recommend a custom orthotic device to better support your arch and correct abnormal gait patterns. We may also have you try a night splint that keeps the Achilles stretched out while you sleep, eliminating your morning stiffness and pain.
Help for Your Achilles Pain in New Jersey
Dr. Jyotsna Thapar has seen a lot of sports injuries like Achilles tendinitis over the years and can guide you to the best treatment for taking care of them. We can also provide tips to prevent future issues. Call Ankle and Foot Specialist of New Jersey at (908) 222-8980 and set up a time to come in and have your sore tendon evaluated. We’ll help you care for it properly so it heals completely and you’re ready for action again!
Our offices in South Plainfield, Hillsboruogh and Warren serve patients from the surrounding communities of Edison, Brunswick, Woodbridge and Newark, NJ with great foot care, so call today, or contact us via our online form.