Do you do a lot of work around your house? Maybe you're painting your home yourself or doing some work on the roof, and you're constantly climbing a ladder—or standing on one. You may have thought that a fall was your biggest concern from all this ladder climbing, but you may also be at risk for a common foot ailment, Achilles tendonitis.
How Do You Get Achilles Tendonitis?
Your Achilles tendon runs from your heel to your calf muscle and helps you lift your heel in order to walk. When it gets inflamed through overuse or gets torn, it can cause symptoms that include:
- Pain or tenderness, especially when the sides of the tendon are squeezed.
Activities like jumping and running can cause minor tears in the tendon that lead to Achilles tendonitis, but other household activities like climbing a ladder can cause the tendon to pull or even break.
How Do You Treat Achilles Tendonitis?
There are several treatment options for you and your doctor to decide on, but most treatments depend on the severity of damage to the tendon.
If the tendon is strained or inflamed, your podiatrist may recommend:
- Rest. Stay off your feet and let the tendon sit without working.
- Ice. Use an ice pack or cold pack on the site of the injury to reduce swelling.
- Medication. You might start with an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen. Your doctor can give you the proper dose, or may prescribe a different strength or drug.
Once you have had a chance to treat the tendon with these less invasive techniques, you can evaluate how well they work. For more severe injuries, these steps may lessen the pain but not eliminate it. That's when you might try:
- Physical therapy and exercises that can strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles.
- A cast that will help keep the Achilles tendon from moving to allow it to rest.
- Surgery, if the tendon is unable to heal.
How Do You Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
To keep from getting Achilles tendonitis, take advice from runners, who are commonly afflicted with the problem through overuse. In fact, Achilles tendonitis impacts about 10 percent of runners at some point in their running careers.
Runners recommend good stretching before activity, which is a great lesson to learn. Even when you're doing work around the house, like climbing ladders or squatting down to weed the garden, it helps your whole body to stretch your calves and ankles. Over time, the calf muscle can get tight and inflexible, so a good stretching routine regardless of your age or activity level can be part of your everyday workout.
If you don't currently work out, add a few minutes of stretching when you wake up in the morning. Your podiatrist (such as Jeffrey M Marks DPM) or physical therapist can advise on which stretches will help the most and set up a workable routine for you.