Q: This year, I promised myself I would drop those last 10 pounds before putting
on my bathing suit. So a few weeks ago I started walking before work. It was
going pretty well, until the back of my ankle just above my right heel started
hurting. I already gave up walking, but it still hurts. What should I do?
Dr. Donnica: Unfortunately, what you should have done was careful ankle
stretching exercises before going on your power-walking mission (which is a great
way to lose weight, by the way). You may have developed something called Achilles
tendonitis. This syndrome comes from irritating the large tendon in the back of
the ankle. Sudden use or overusage causes inflammation that can lead to pain and
swelling over the back of the heel.
Achilles tendonitis is a common over-use injury that affects many middle-aged
recreational athletes. While it often responds well to treatment, repeated bouts
of Achilles tendonitis may lead to small tears, making it susceptible to rupture
(an extremely painful condition which requires surgical repair). While the best
treatment for Achilles tendonitis is prevention, other helpful modalities are
icing the affected area (15 minutes, 3 times per day), taking anti-inflammatory
medications such as ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil or Nuprin), and physical therapy.
A physical therapist can also teach you the proper stretching exercises to do
before every exercise session.
Created: 4/8/2005  - Donnica Moore, M.D.