Achilles Pain In The Morning
If you’ve been experiencing Achilles pain in the morning, you’re not alone. Our podiatrist in Powder Springs, GA sees so many patients who experience pain or stiffness in their Achilles tendon, especially with the first steps they take each morning. Usually, this is a sign that they’ve developed Achilles tendinopathy or tendinitis, two conditions we’ll explore in greater depth in this blog post!
What is Achilles tendonitis? What is Achilles tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury affecting your Achilles tendon, which is the band of tissue that runs through your calf muscles, along the back of your lower leg, all the way to your heel bone. Achilles tendinopathy is another way of describing this injury. And there are several ways you can develop this painful problem.
Basically, any time you put a lot of force on your Achilles tendon—or more force than your body is used to—you can develop inflammation. Soon, you’ll experience Achilles pain in the morning—or all throughout the day. This type of injury is very common with runners who suddenly up their training speed or distance, or with weekend warriors who are pretty immobile during the work week. In some cases, a simple shoe swap from sneakers to flats, combined with lots of walking, can cause Achilles tendinitis to develop. Another cause of Achilles pain in the morning? If you train hard, but don’t give your body time to recover between workouts. In other words, any time you push your body too hard, your Achilles tendon could be paying the price!
Why Does Tendinitis Cause Achilles Pain in the Morning?
Contrary to popular belief, that pain or stiffness you feel in the back of your legs each morning isn’t a sign that your tendon is tearing. Instead, it’s a sign that all the pressure hitting your Achilles tendon is affecting its internal structure in a way that proved painful.
Basically, when all is well with your tendon, the collagen fibers that form its structure are tightly packed, with very little room for substances to pass between them. Unfortunately, when you develop tendinopathy, the collagen in your tendon gets moved around, allowing more substances to flow between each particle. Now, during the day this increased volume may go unnoticed. But when you head to bed for the night, your body stays still. During that time, the fluid in your tendon builds up, sensitizing your local nerve endings. And the result? When you wake up, you experience Achilles pain in the morning, often accompanied by stiffness, especially for the first few steps you take to get out of bed.
Now, here’s the good news. As you walk more throughout the day, that fluid accumulation breaks up, and your pain and stiffness will improve. But here’s the bad news. If you don’t address tendinitis, your symptoms will progress. Pretty soon, Achilles pain in the morning will become an all day, chronic problem.
What are 2 signs of Achilles tendonitis?
Aside from Achilles pain in the morning, there are several other symptoms you may experience with tendinopathy. Common Achilles tendonitis symptoms also include:
• Heel pain, where the tendon attaches to your heel bone
• Pain in the back of leg or calf area, especially when running and walking
Some people with tendinopathy may also find that their tendon is tender to the touch. It may be painful for you to move or massage the tendon.
Keep in mind that every individual’s symptoms are unique. Some people will experience pain and stiffness; others will only experience one of these concerns. Whether or not you experience Achilles pain and stiffness in the morning doesn’t necessarily mean your injury is more or less severe. Instead, what does indicate an injury that’s getting worse is a significant increase in pain, stiffness, or both from one day to the next. Worsening discomfort should be a clear sign that it’s time to ask for help from our podiatrist in Powder Springs, also serving the nearby communities of Lost Mountain, Marietta, Dallas, Kennesaw, Acworth, Hiram, and communities throughout Cobb and Paulding Counties.
Treating Achilles Pain in the Morning
When you come in for Achilles tendinitis, Dr. Alvin Cowans will create a treatment plan designed to address the severity of your symptoms.
For some patients, that will mean addressing the pain and inflammation of tendinitis with over the counter medication such as ibuprofen. You will likely have to dial back on your physical activity levels, but don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck on bed rest. It just may mean switching up your high-intensity exercise choices to lower impact activities—think swimming or biking, or walking short distances instead of running three or four times a week. This swap will take pressure off your Achilles tendon to facilitate healing.
Stretching out your calf muscles with prescribed movements will also be an important part of your tendinopathy recovery, to help reduce tugging on your tendon to allow for healing. Once you’re experiencing less Achilles pain in the morning, we can focus your treatment plan on rebuilding strength in your injured tendon. This will involve a doctor-supervised gradual return to your former activity levels. But it will also involve guided training schedules, to avoid reinjury.
What causes Achilles tendonitis to flare up?
Despite your best efforts to follow a recovery plan, your tendinitis pain may return. Certain factors increase your likelihood for a tendinopathy flare up. These include:
1. Weight gain or obesity
2. Tight calf muscles
3. Shoe choice—flats or worn-out sneakers put more pressure on the tendon.
4. Weather—you’re more likely to have a tendinitis flare on cold days than on hot ones.
5. Terrain—once you return to running, training on hilly terrain is more likely to cause a flare up than running on flat roads or indoors.
How Do I Stop Achilles Pain in the Morning?
Treating Achilles tendinitis is possible—as long as we work together. With this kind of overuse injury, your recover will be faster—and longer lasting—if you come in at the first sign of pain or stiffness, and if you follow your treatment plan. Ready to hop out of bed without pain or stiffness? We’re here to help, so schedule an appointment with our office right away!