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Achilles Tendonitise

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.

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