Treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis are selected on the basis of how long the injury has been present and the degree of damage to the tendon. In the early stage, when there is sudden (acute) inflammation, one or more of the following options may be recommended:
When is Surgery Needed?
- Immobilization - Immobilization may involve the use of a cast or removable walking boot to reduce forces through the Achilles tendon and promote healing.
- Ice - To reduce swelling due to inflammation, apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area for 20 minutes of each waking hour. Do not put ice directly against the skin.
- Oral medications - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be helpful in reducing the pain and inflammation in the early stage of the condition.
- Orthotics - For those with overpronation or gait abnormalities, custom orthotic devices may be prescribed.
- Night splints - Night splints help to maintain a stretch in the Achilles tendon during sleep.
- Physical therapy - Physical therapy may include strengthening exercises, soft-tissue massage/mobilization, gait and running re-education, stretching and ultrasound therapy
If nonsurgical approaches fail to restore the tendon to its normal condition, surgery may be necessary. The foot and ankle surgeon will select the best procedure to repair the tendon, based on the extent of the injury, the patient’s age and activity level, and other factors.
To prevent Achilles tendonitis or tendonosis from recurring after surgical or nonsurgical treatment, the foot and ankle surgeon may recommend strengthening and stretching of the calf muscles through daily exercises. Wearing proper shoes for the foot type and activity is also important in preventing recurrence of the condition.