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Achilles Tendon Problems (cont.)

Prevention

Most Achilles tendon injuries occur during sports and can be prevented. If you had an Achilles tendon problem in the past, it is especially important to try to prevent another injury. To help prevent injury, try to:

  • Warm up and stretch. Before any sport or intense activity, gradually warm up your body by doing 5 to 10 minutes of walking or biking, and then do stretching exercises. Calf and plantar fascia stretchesClick here to see an illustration. will stretch the Achilles tendon area. More general stretchesClick here to see an illustration. target other muscles, such as the hamstrings and groin.
  • Cool down and do more stretching. After intense activity, gradually cool down with about 5 minutes of easy jogging, walking, or biking, and 5 minutes of stretches.
  • Avoid any sport or intense activity that you are not in condition to do.
  • Wear shoes that cushion your heel during sports or any strenuous activity.
  • Wear heel pads or other orthotics that are designed to reduce stress on the Achilles tendon.

Home Treatment

Home treatment is often used for Achilles tendinopathy and in physical therapy or rehabilitation (rehab) after an Achilles tendon rupture.

Achilles tendinopathy

Follow these steps to rest, heal, and strengthen your Achilles tendon and prevent further injury:

  • Rest your Achilles tendon. Avoid all activities that strain the tendon, such as stair climbing or running. Try other activities, such as swimming, while you give your tendon the days, weeks, or months it needs to heal. Your doctor will tell you what you can and cannot do.
  • Reduce pain by icing your Achilles tendon and taking nonprescription pain relievers such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as directed. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Follow your physical therapy program if one has been prescribed for you. Do gentle stretchingClick here to see an illustration. and strengthening exercises. Focus on calf stretchesClick here to see an illustration..
  • Don't smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking slows healing, because it decreases blood supply and delays tissue repair.
  • Wear footwear that protects the tendon while it heals.
    • Quality athletic shoes that support your arches and cushion your heels can make a big difference in your comfort and healing. If needed, talk to your physical therapist or podiatrist about heel pads or orthotics.
    • A bandage that keeps your foot flexed can restrict the motion of the Achilles tendon.
    • A silicone sleeve or pad can distribute pressure on the Achilles tendon.

If your Achilles tendon shortens and stiffens while you sleep, your doctor may suggest that you wear a night braceClick here to see an illustration. to keep your foot flexed.

Achilles tendon rupture

No matter how you treat an Achilles tendon rupture, after treatment it's important to follow your rehab program. This program helps your tendon heal and prevents further injury.

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