A large tendon, called the Achilles tendon, connects your heel to the bottom of your calf muscle. Should this tendon become irritated, the pain created might keep you from putting any weight on your foot. Here is what you need to know about this painful condition and how to deal with it should you wake up with a painful heel.
What the Achilles Tendon Does For You
This tendon controls the movement of your foot up and down. It is essential for proper foot movement when walking and running. It also helps to maintain the shape of your arch, which acts as a shock absorber when you place your foot on the ground.
Irritation of This Tendon
When this tendon is irritated frequently or over a long period of time, the tissue becomes painful and inflamed. Some of the common ways this tendon is irritated include:
- Insufficient stretching of the muscles in your legs and feet before walking, running or exercising.
- Putting stress on your Achilles tendon when it is cold.
- Overworking your foot and leg muscles during strenuous activities or exercise.
- Shoes that rub on the area over the Achilles tendon.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
When sufficiently irritated, this tendon contracts slightly, causing your foot to feel stiff. Other common symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include:
- A dull ache from the bottom of your calf muscle to your heel.
- Warmth and redness in your heel from the inflammation caused by the irritation.
- Intense pain when you press on either end of the tendon.
- Pain that radiates up into your calf and lower leg.
- Your foot may collapse when you put weight on it as the tendon contracts and becomes painful.
Treating This Painful Tendon Issue
Should you wake up with a painful Achilles tendon, or it develops while working or exercising, try the following for short-term relief:
- Hold ice packs on the tendon to reduce inflammation.
- Using your hands, slowly flex your foot up and down to stretch out the tense and contracted tendon.
- Take an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.
If the painful condition persists or frequently returns, a visit to you podiatrist will get you these treatment recommendations:
- Custom shoe inserts to support your heel and remove the tension from the tendon.
- Physical therapy on the lower leg and foot muscles to strengthen them so they can better support your foot.
If this painful condition is due to an injury that resulted in tears in your Achilles tendon, you may need to wear shoe inserts or an ankle brace to support the tendon as it heals.
For more information, visit a local healthcare clinic near you, such as High Desert Foot & Ankle Clinic - Wonsik Y Bollmann DPM.