Chronic Achilles Tendinitis Rehabilitation [Causes & Best Home Treatment]
90% of the time people find success with chronic Achilles tendinitis rehabilitation. We go over causes, symptoms & best treatment! Get better FAST!
Table of Contents
Achilles Tendon & Back of Heel Pain
Back of the Heel Pain Causes:
Back of the heel pain is most commonly caused by the Achilles tendon and back of the calcaneus damage.
The most common causes of back heel pain are:
- Fat pad atrophy can lead to calcaneus bone pain.
- Insertional Achilles tendinitis pain.
- Achilles tendinitis 2-6 cm above the heel bone.
- An Achilles tendon strain or rupture.
- Nerve impingement or entrapment in the heel.
- Achilles tendinosis.
- Back of the heel spur pain.
- Achilles tendon bursitis.
- Plantar fasciitis.
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms:
- Achilles tendonitis symptoms can be a pain in the morning when you first wake up.
- Pain when trying to bend the foot up as the Achilles tendon inserts into the back of the heel.
- Worsening inflammation and tenderness while standing and walking for long periods of time.
- Improvement when wearing good shoes, good orthotics, and supportive sandals.
- Be prepared to treat your Achilles tendinitis for a few months, because the general rule is that it will take just as long to get rid of it as you have had it.
- The goal in most cases is to decrease the pain gradually well before the 3 month point, but in some cases it can take up to 6 months of conservative treatment before the Achilles tendinitis is
Factors that put you at risk:
- Put stress on your body that it is not used to: This is the weekend warrior or someone who exercises really hard after sitting on the couch for the last 4 months.
- Having very tight calf muscles: If you have trouble getting anywhere near your toes this may be you!
- Calcification of the the Achilles tendon at the insertion: Can you feel some unusually bone formation at the back of your heel?
- No athlete wants to hear it, but the bottom line is that any high impact activity will prolong the healing time.
- Try to find an activity that puts less strain on the Achilles tendon like swimming or biking for at least a week or two until the inflammation calms down.
- Put the ice in the area that is most painful in the tendon.
- This should be done for approximately 15-20 minutes until numbness begins to set in.
- This is less for the pain and more for a decrease in inflammation which will lead to increased healing time.
Topical anti-inflammatory or analgesics:
- There are anti-inflammatory creams that can be prescribed by your podiatrist that can decrease the inflammation and speed up your healing time.
- Consider menthol based creams as an alternative:
- Getting a gel heel lift with decrease the stretch on the achilles tendon and offload it while you are walking around.
- If your Achilles tendinitis is at the insertion into the heel bone, try to find a shoe that does not rub against the back of the heel.
- Watch this shoe fitting guide to find the right shoes online.
- This can be over the counter, but the goal is to take a two week course to attempt to decrease the inflammation and speed up your
- Ibuprofen is a good option.
- There is a great deal of scientific evidence showing that this will greatly improve healing time.
- This a great option for your rehabilitation.
- Consider a massage roller to take pressure off your hamstrings and calf muscles.
- This will reduce strain on your Achilles tendon.
- The lower the weight, the lower the stress on your achilles tendon.
- For every pound lost, the effect is exponentially magnified in a decrease of strain in your achilles tendon.
- Control your overpronation with a rigid insert that can be purchased for approximately $25.
- This will prevent “twisting” of your Achilles tendon.
Heavy duty orthotics:
- These are our favorite options for heavy duty orthotics.
- If you can fit these in your shoes, test these ones out!
Back of the heel pain treatment:
Best Back of Heel Pain Treatment:
- There are usually two phases to treating back of the heel pain.
- The two phases of treatment include controlling the acute inflammation and correcting the biomechanics, which led to the problem in the first place.
- If the tendons and ligaments are inflamed, they are almost frozen in place and cannot function properly.
- Once the inflammation is decreased, we need to correct the biomechanical causes to ensure that the Achilles tendon can never become overworked and inflamed again!
- This doesn’t matter whether it’s The back of the heel spur, fat pad atrophy, insertional Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, or even Achilles tendinosis.
- If you do have an Achilles tendon rupture or tear, seeing podiatrist care immediately.
Achilles Tendon Natural Treatment:
Massage & Ice Products:
- Ice is an excellent option that can be safe for almost everyone.
- There is some debate about whether icing is worth doing, but this can help limit the need for medications and keep your options open for chronic pain.
- This works great for your arch, less for the ball of the foot.
- Manual massage on the Achilles tendon & calf muscle is a natural treatment that can also be considered physical therapy for your back of the heel pain.
- This works well for calf muscle pain and Achilles tendon pain.
- The more muscle and ligament tissue there is, the better ice will work there.
Menthol Based Gels:
- Biofreeze is one of our favorites.
- These gels have been studied to work 2x as long as ice.
- This works great for the ball of the foot.
- This can be very effective for pain relief, but this can decrease inflammation in the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.
- These can work great for loosening your muscles.
- This allows less tightness and pressure onto the plantar fascia and heel.
- This is very effective for the arch, the gastrocnemius, calf muscle, and the hamstring and thigh muscles.
- This also works very well for the gluteus muscles if you are having butt cheek or hip pain.
- The massage stick can break up lumps in your Achilles tendon and heel pain.
Remove the Achilles tendon tightness.
- The key is to prevent future pain stress and trauma to the Achilles tendon muscle.
- This means keeping you active while keeping stress off of your Achilles tendon. This will prevent future re-injury and the development of plantar fasciitis.
- If you can get rid of the pain and swelling, this will let you start walking normally.
- If you can walk normally, the vast majority of your pain should gradually start to go away.
- The best way to ensure that your plantar fascia, foot, and ankle ligaments are not overworked is to support them.
- The best way to support them is to use great orthotics and great shoes.
- Some people may also need to rely on supportive ankle braces and other supportive modalities.
Best Shoes for Back of Heel Pain:
- Getting a great supportive pair of Achilles tendonitis shoes will ensure that there is pressure removed from the heel and plantar fascia region.
- This is especially important if you have plantar fasciitis, heel spur pain, or Achilles tendonitis as well.
- Consider Achilles tendonitis shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for best pain relief!
- The following link will show you what our favorites are.
Best Achilles Tendonitis Insoles:
- These are our recommended orthotics for Achilles tendonitis.
- Custom orthotics can work very well, but they should not be the first line of treatment due to the cost.
- There are different types of different shoes.
- Women’s shoes usually need a less bulky orthotic but allow for less correction.
- A full-length orthotic requires a running shoe, boot, or comfortable walking/dress shoe.
- We recommend doing everything you can to get a good supportive shoe that can fit a full-length orthotic.
- A further home remedy tip for Achilles tendonitis pain is cutting out a hole where the nodule uses scissors or a knife. Be careful and start with a very low-cost orthotic.
Best Full Length Achilles tendonitis Orthotics:
- These will only work in wider shoes or a good supportive running shoe.
- This will not work in sandals, flats, or most women’s dress shoes.
Best Dress Shoe Achilles tendonitisOrthotics:
- These are a great choice for dress orthotics.
Best 3/4 Length Achilles tendonitis Orthotics:
- These are great options for women’s dress shoes and thinner shoes.
- These are not the most supportive pair of orthotics.
Get A Great Dynamic Stretch:
- It is possible to stretch on your own, but these products can also really help!
- This will take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- This form of the back of the heel pain physical therapy breaks up the scar tissue.
- We personally prefer this method of stretching.
Get A Great Static Stretch:
- These devices are great for stretching while you are resting.
- This is an excellent Achilles tendonitis physical therapy that you can do at home.
- This will also help take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- This works great for plantar fasciitis.
- The static night splint can use it while watching TV or at night time.
Best Heel Compression Brace:
- A good compression brace can stabilize your foot from turning outward.
- This prevents your foot from pronation.
- The pronated foot will turn your foot outward, in your foot will rub on the outside of the shoe.
- This has solved their pain for many of her patients and is very comfortable to wear inside your shoe.
- This solves both pain and outward pronation for a relatively low cost.
Best Heel Stability Brace:
- The stability brace goes a little bit further than the compression brace to stop your foot from turning out.
- This takes the pressure off of your heel and plantar fascia.
- At the same time, this is a little bit bulkier and does not affect every shoe.
- We find people are a little bit happier trying the compression brace before the stability brace.
Severe Achilles tendonitis Pain:
- If you think you might have a broken heel, a calcaneal stress fracture, or something of similar severity, these products might help!
- Always remember to see a foot and ankle specialist like a podiatrist if you have plantar fasciitis or more severe pain!
Plantar Fascia Tear, Broken Heel Bone, Achilles Tendon Tear:
- If you have a traumatic injury such as a torn plantar fascia ligament, calcaneus stress fracture, heel fracture, or insertional Achilles tendon injury: consider protecting your foot!
- The best way to do this is, of course, to see your podiatrist and get evaluated with an x-ray, ultrasound, and potentially even an MRI or CT scan.
- If you cannot do so, it may benefit you to be in a cast, fractured boot, or even keep the weight off of it with a rolling knee scooter or other protective devices.
- We as podiatrists frequently take patients off work for very long periods of time when they suffer a traumatic injury. Unfortunately, there is no other way around us in labor jobs.
- If you have a sit-down job, there are ways to get people back to work quicker, but this can be not easy otherwise.
Heel Injury Boot Treatment:
- There are pros and cons to using a boot to treat your heel injury. The Pros are that your injured heel will hopefully have a chance to heal gradually! If you are immobilized too long, the cons are that you will gradually become stiff and overworked to your other leg.
- Our favorite fracture boots and their supplies:
Offloading and Scooter treatment:
- These are favorite knee scooters and walking devices.
- If your Achilles tendonitis pain is severe, offloading can be very effective until the pain calms down.