The Achilles is also very susceptible to tendonitis, which can be very painful. Achilles tendonitis can be exacerbated by actions or activities that constantly stress the tendon—even just standing for extended period of time. Runners are particularly prone to developing tendonitis. Other causes include weak arches, wearing ill-fitting shoes, not stretching before exercising or playing sports, injury, and a deformity of the heel.
Those suffering from tendonitis report commonly feel pain when first getting out of bed in the morning or when starting to walk after sitting down or being immobile for extended periods of time. By usually, the pain eases after a minute or two of walking.
The danger of letting the tendonitis go untreated is that the tendon can weaken and eventually rupture. But it is difficult to treat because it is engaged with every step a person takes. But typical treatments include stretching, applying ice to the tendon after exercise or other strenuous activity, using a heel cup or other orthotic device, and avoiding walking uphill or climbing stairs.
Unlike tendonitis of the elbow or knee, Achilles tendonitis is not characterized by inflammation so the condition is not treated with anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid injections. Instead, the underlying cause is deterioration of collagen tissue.
Rarely are Achilles tendon injuries treated with steroid shots or by putting on a cast. Instead, for severe cases of Achilles tendonitis, rest is prescribed. If the patient has suffered a rupture requiring surgery, the aftercare is rest and rehabilitation. Typical exercises include heel raises, calf lifts, and a variety of stretches.
Patience is a big part of recovery because Achilles tendons tend to heal slowly because the area doesn’t have a huge blood supply going to it. And as people age, healing can slow even further. Although a link between smoking and Achilles damage has not been found, it is still strongly suggested to avoid smoking during recovery because it’s believed cigarettes can slow down recovery.