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How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ?
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Art ...
(asandh) - F
How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/18/2012 12:25:28 MDT Print View

I'm a bit hesitant to seek internet medical advice,
but its becoming chronic and I'm getting desperate, lots of things planned ahead.

so, any ideas, thoughts on healing up a chronic achilles tendenitis issue ?

its over a year old, comes and goes, but is mostly here.
my recent RRR run with the guys brought it back big time.
I do a lot of icing, lot of stretching.
take a bunch of joint related supplements.
rest and do nothing is not really an option.
oddly enough, I think it was started by a few long runs last year with lower drop shoes than I am used to.
Speed seems to aggravate it.
slow hiking seems to help it, but I can't go slow all the time.

any ideas appreciated.

Edited by asandh on 04/18/2012 13:44:47 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/18/2012 13:01:21 MDT Print View

"rest and do nothing is not really an option"

Unless you have permanently done physical damage, then rest is the only feasible option. Give it time to heal. Then work on the preventative measures. You don't want to push it to the point of serious damage.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Podiatrist on 04/18/2012 13:21:27 MDT Print View

You need to head to the podiatrist. The foot and ankle is one of the most complicated areas of the body and without x-rays and expert judgement you'll never know exactly what the culprit is out of the dozens of possibilities. Also, you can let them know that staying off of it is not an option, and they can advise on ways to manage it. You'd be amazed what a good podiatrist can do with a roll of tape - truly an artform.

Take a trip, it's worth the copay. Even if you don't go through with prescribed treatment, knowing exactly what's causing the problem can help tremendously.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/18/2012 14:49:21 MDT Print View

One possibility is that the lower drop shoes are causing you to push off from the ball of your foot more, or just striking more forefoot than what your tendon has adapted to.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
seems to me... on 04/18/2012 14:58:53 MDT Print View

i'm inspired and somewhat obliged i feel, to assist in your quandry.
honestly, i find more and more that i've needed to become self-reliant when it comes to medical matters, for my experiences have been rather, uhum...poor.
that's NOT to say i haven't had positive outcomes. i certainly have.
i too have done my share of homework. and even more of doctor musical chairs.
the best advice i can give is to skip the podiatrist.
unless you need him/her to catapult you to a higher qualified specialist (sports med. guru or exercise physiologist), then save your loot. podiatrists (again my experience) are for hammertoes, bunions and foot warts. honestly.
seems to me you've a biomechanical issue that continues to fuel your chronic outcomes. have you had your gait assessed? practice yoga? (i too forgot how vitally necessary yoga is to both prevention and treatment of injuries). use a foot ball or regularly practice exercises to help strengthen the muscles in that area? which brings me to physical therapy...what measures are being taken to assess the "why"?
meanwhile, have you considered inviting new activities into your regime?
cycling? swimming?
eeeks-running wrecks your body!
perhaps this is a signal you need to reduce your mileage and/or frequency of your runs, or find a new surface to run on that better supports your physiology.
and the internet has it's place. used wisely, consider it a resource of sorts to better expand/assimilate your own knowledge-base.
good luck.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: seems to me... on 04/18/2012 15:26:47 MDT Print View

"podiatrists (again my experience) are for hammertoes, bunions and foot warts. honestly."

I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences with podiatrists that leads you to think they're so limited. I've had three serious foot/ankle issues.
-metatarsocunieform joint pain

for those three issues I've gone to podiatrists and have been successfully treated without surgery, medications, or other invasive techniques. for each issue it's been as simple as a quick x-ray to make sure there isn't something seriously wrong (like a bone spur), a quick tape job to try for a few days to make sure a hypothesis is correct, and then modification of a cost-effective insole to fix the issues.

For all three issues in the last four years I've spent a total of $100 on copays and insoles. I can now run farther than 2 miles at a time (a first since I was a kid), hike more than 8 miles in a day, and feel no pain while doing it. Money well spent I'd say.

Ultimately things like yoga and differentiation of your exercise might fix it, but until you've got an x-ray and a professional examination as to what the problem is, you're just playing a guessing game. (especially with feet, hands, and the spine)

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: seems to me... on 04/18/2012 15:29:04 MDT Print View

See a podiatrist especially if you think there's imminent rupture but both military and civilian podiatrists (long term) haven't really done much for me. Short term, yes, they will relieve the pain but are you prepared to modify the activity you enjoy? Listening to your own feet limitations may be the only long-term solution.

Edited by hknewman on 04/18/2012 16:29:50 MDT.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: seems to me... on 04/18/2012 15:46:56 MDT Print View

I guess I'm just biased towards going to a doctor. I had to quit sports as a teenager due to my overpronation. Coaches and people told me I just had shin splints and had to run through them. Had I just gone to a doctor instead of relying on non-qualified people to give me advice, I coulda gotten a pair of $30 insoles and kept on running.

I guess that's my core point - don't ask people who don't know any better than you. Ask someone who's at least got something showing they have a clue.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: Re: seems to me... on 04/18/2012 15:59:59 MDT Print View


Edited by hknewman on 04/18/2012 16:30:42 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: seems to me... on 04/18/2012 16:32:42 MDT Print View

+1 on a doctor, and a good physical therapist. I had one Achilles give me a bad time and it took a long time to heal. Don't mess around with it!

Mark Primack
(Bufa) - MLife

Locale: Cape Cod and Northern Newfoundland
Achilles tendonitis on 04/18/2012 17:17:20 MDT Print View

I've had problems with my achilles tendon for more than a dozen years, beginning during six months of hiking in Alaska, a chronic problem with acute episodes. I have been to my doctor repeatedly, podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists, all through Harvard health plans, so seeing some of the best in the world. I have had xrays and MRIs done. After an acute episode in December, when the pain was so severe my longest walk each week was down the aisle at the supermarket hobbling like an elderly man, I am feeling very good and did some serious winter ascents by late January.

Achilles tendonitis can take take months to properly heal. Oft times, three or four weeks of limited physical activity is essential to get the healing process going. This does not mean you can't exercise, but does mean giving up anything that will keep the sprained or slightly torn tendon from constantly re-aggravating itself. Cortizone shots can also be very helpful, but have very serious limitations. This winter I was surprised at how much snowshoeing and xc skiing I could do and how aggressively without causing the tendon to relapse. Biking, which I also do pretty aggressively, also seems OK. And once things feel good and my legs are strong, its back up the mountains.

If you haven't already, you should see your doctor. I have been very impressed with what good physical therapists can do--look for one that specializes in sports injuries. I have gone as often as three times a week during acute episodes, always with good if sometimes slow progress. The most lasting good advice from my multiple consultations with orthopedic surgeons was to wear very comfortable shoes(back then Rocksports were the only shoes they could advise me to wear, now there are many well-designed brands for people with foot-related issues.) with good heel support and, most importantly, to use high quality insoles in every piece of footwear, including slippers, and don't walk around without supportive footwear on. I have been using Superfeet with great success for over ten years now.

Good luck. The feeling of pain and the loss of mobility really suck. But it should pass with proper treatment.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Rest. on 04/18/2012 19:43:31 MDT Print View

"oddly enough, I think it was started by a few long runs last year with lower drop shoes than I am used to."

Any major change, done with major exertion, can have disastrous effects. Change to a low drop heel from your regular shoes, then doing several major runs in them was a great recipe for Achilles tendinitis. Once injured, it will flare up again until it's fully healed.

Nick is right: Rest is what you need. Perhaps for as much as six months or more.

Once you begin again, make any change gradual. Don't do a major run in [whatever] until you've accustomed your feet and legs to them. Gradual change is key.

But for now, rest. Rest until the pain no longer flares up. It took a year for my plantar facsiatis (sp?) to heal. Rest.

Zach Bradford
(Spiranthes) - F

Locale: WV
achilles on 04/19/2012 06:11:22 MDT Print View

I need to first preface by saying that I am in no way a doctor of any kind, I'm just sharing the process that worked for me when I had achilles tendonitis.

Back when I started college, I ran cross country and track for a top division 1 school. The mileage was a lot higher than I was used to, and by January I had a had a case of tendonitis in my left achilles. My coach had me try various stretching techniques, icing, STEM, and ultrasound, but I just wasn't able to kick it. We eventually figured out a plan that got me back on my feet extraordinarily quickly:

1. Deep tissue massage. In my case, my achilles tendonitis was due to chronically tight calf muscles. After a half hour torture session from a linebacker-sized guy fitting his fist into my hamstrings and working the knots out of my calf muscles, my legs were noticeably more relaxed, thus putting less stress on the achilles.

2. A strict icing regimen. This is the key. I am NOT just talking about ice packs here. Fortunately, I had the luxury of a well outfitted training room, but it's still something you can do it home. You need to get a 50 gallon trash can, fill it with water, and then fill the top 12 inches or so with ice. Stand in it for about 10-15 minutes. The first couple minutes will be excruciating, but you'll go numb and can read a book or something. The goal is get the ENTIRE leg cold and flushed of blood, not just just the achilles region. I did this both before and after physical activity, but I always made sure to warm up my legs again completely in a warm bath before going out running.

3. Decrease the intensity of your physical activity. Sorry. You have to. It'll be worth it once you put the tendonitis behind you.

As always, YMMV. Just my personal experience.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
a side note... on 04/19/2012 06:44:03 MDT Print View

on an altogether different, but somewhat relevant note...
i'm presently reading 'practical applications in sports nutrition'.
it provides me some deep insight as to the human body and the ways food can help heal. personally, i'm making a point to brew a ton of loose-leaf teas -- various combos of the following: oatsraw, nettle, mate, green, hibiscus, and broth soups made from various seagreens (kelp, hiziki, kombu, wakame) and supergreens (cholrella, spirulina. wheatgrass), as all are incredibly vit/mineral rich! super nourishing and historically proven to tame/treat inflammation. amp up your omegas too and yup, all is nothing sans proper rest as all have previously stated! think synergistically.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/19/2012 11:04:56 MDT Print View

Look up eccentric heel raises. Often Achilles issues are calf muscle issues.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Eccentric heel raises on 04/19/2012 19:08:27 MDT Print View

Eccentric heal raises helped me a lot

I perfer physical therapy over podietry because physicl they generally tries to strengthen or stretch to correct muscle weakness or imbalance whereas a a podiatrist seems to correct problems by providing more support which while treating the problem doesnt solve the underlying condition. This way you are always dependant on inserts.

The other thing that has help me is foam rolling my calves. It is essebtially deep tissue massage done by yourself. Strengthening and keeping my calves loose has solved all of my ankle foot issues

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/19/2012 19:28:01 MDT Print View

Art- this not certainly not a "cure", but proper taping helped me get through my achilles problem


Hoot Filsinger
(filsinger) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How Do I Heal a Chronic Achilles Issue ? on 04/19/2012 20:28:58 MDT Print View


I am an avid racquetball player and tore my Achilles playing the young “bucks”. My wife hid my racquetball gear for 4 months and I completely healed from the rest. I too had great success with hot and cold treatments.

FDA WARNING! The FDA has been adding warnings that Fluoroquinolones (Cipro, Levaquin) and other commonly prescribed antibiotics may cause Achilles tendon damage. I was taking Levaquin when I injured my Achilles playing racquetball. These heavy duty antibiotics take many weeks to leave the body.


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
The physical therapy perspective on 04/21/2012 17:00:48 MDT Print View

As a PT I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of podiatrists either (sorry...). They like to inject tendons (don't ever, ever do that) and take X-rays and give you orthotics. All those things make money but don't really solve the problem. Injections actually damage the tendon and those who get injections actually do worse in the long run than people who sat around and watched Oprah. X-rays don't help either - a bone spur is how your body deals with excessive stress on tendon - it is a SYMPTOM, not the cause - you still need to figure out why your foot is moving in stressful ways (which you cannot see on an X-ray). And while orthotics are necessary for some people, they are way, way overused.

Eccentric training (as the previous poster mentioned) has some very good studies behind it - and you can do it at home for free. You may want to have a PT look at your foot/ankle to see why you may have the problem in the first place (which an X-ray will not show), but to deal with the chronic tendinopathy now you can start the eccentrics. Stand on a step on the toes of your bad foot, then slowly lower yourself down. Use your good foot to lift yourself back up and place your bad foot in that same position again (do NOT use your painful foot to lift yourself back up). Repeat 3 sets of 15 4-6 times a day. It will's kind of supposed to (think about a 6/10 on the pain scale). And when it doesn't hurt to do this exercise, put a pack on with some weight in it and do it some more.

Jamie Estep
(jestep) - F

Locale: ATX
torn on 04/24/2012 16:53:58 MDT Print View

I'm not in any medical field, but I had a minor tear in 1 ankle and tendonitis in the other after a grueling hike last summer. After speaking with multiple doctors and personal observation, full isolation was the only way I could get mine to recover. Once all the pain is gone and the grinding/sliding tendon feeling is gone, which I think i disliked worse than the actual pain, thoughtful stretching, insoles, and therapy helped. Until you get the tendon to completely heal, it's just a losing uphill battle. There's just too much stress on that tendon during normal activity if it is still physically injured to make any progress.

I would definitely be looking to get an MRI if there's no healing. There could be other issues at hand, and the tendon is just another symptom.