Achilles tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) refers to an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon that attaches your calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel.
Tendonitis due to overuse is most common in younger and middle-aged people who participate in sports like running, gymnastics, dance, football, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and volleyball. It can affect both professional and amateur athletes.
This problem occurs due to sudden increases in the amount or intensity of physical activity, not stretching properly before exercising, running on hard surfaces and doing lots of jumping.
It can also be caused by wearing high heels for extended hours and not wearing shoes with proper support. Factors that may increase your risk include problems with the feet like flat feet, conditions like obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure and taking certain types of antibiotics.
This main symptom of Achilles tendonitis is pain along the back of your leg and above your heel, especially when walking or running.
Episodes of more severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing or sprinting. Other symptoms include swelling, tenderness when touched, stiff muscles and difficulty standing or walking.
You can treat most cases of Achilles tendonitis with relatively simple home remedies. However, more-serious cases can lead to an Achilles rupture, making surgery the only solution, so seek medical care in these cases.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for Achilles tendonitis.
1. Cold Compresses
A cold compress helps reduce pain and swelling, two main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. It will also help relax the affected muscles.
- Put a few ice cubes in a thin towel and tie it securely.
- Apply this ice pack to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day, as needed.
Instead of ice, you can also use a bag of frozen peas.
Note: Do not apply ice directly on the skin, as it may cause frostbite.
2. Warm Wraps or Elastic Bandages
You can use warm wraps or compressive, elastic bandages to reduce the amount of stress placed on the affected muscles. This in turn decreases swelling and pain as well as speeds up the healing process. You can easily find warm wraps or elastic bandages in the market.
Wrap your foot and lower leg with an elastic bandage or compression wrap. Try to keep your leg elevated to reduce blood flow to the area. Keep it wrapped for a few days or until you get relief from the swelling and soreness.
Avoid wrapping it too tightly, which can lead to poor circulation, and be sure to loosen the wrap if you have increased pain or other symptoms.
Massage is another good way to treat Achilles tendonitis. A gentle massage will help increase circulation, relax the muscles, and reduce swelling and stiffness. For massaging, you can use olive, coconut, sesame or mustard oil.
- Slightly warm some oil of your choice.
- Using your fingers, gently massage the lower part of your foot and heel with the oil for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily until the pain subsides.
If you cannot massage on your own, get help from a friend or a professional massage therapist.
Another good treatment for Achilles tendonitis is acupuncture. According to a 2013 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, acupuncture may help improve pain and activity in patients with chronic Achilles tendonitis as compared with eccentric exercises.
Acupuncture helps increase the blood volume and oxygen saturation to the Achilles tendon, which in turn reduces pain and swelling.
Always look for an acupuncture expert with experience treating Achilles tendonitis.
5. Castor Oil
You can also try castor oil to ease the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. The oil is mainly comprised of ricinoleic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent.
According to a 2001 study published in the Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, ricinoleic acid in castor oil possesses capsaicin-like, dual pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties, which are observed upon acute and repeated application, respectively.
Topically apply castor oil to the site of the pain 2 or 3 times a day. This helps relieve pain and minimize inflammation of the tendon.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps relieve inflammation and pain by getting rid of free radicals that may be contributing to it. Vitamin E also improves circulatory function, which reduces swelling and promotes healing.
- Use vitamin E oil to massage the affected area, 2 or 3 times a day until you get complete relief from the pain.
- Also, eat vitamin E-rich foods or take vitamin E supplements, after consulting a doctor, to help your body recover quickly.