Problems with the Achilles tendon are fairly common, especially in athletes and the aging population, although individuals with this disorder may not pinpoint the problem immediately. Moreover, Achilles tendonitis can present with symptoms indicative of other diagnoses, such as plantar fasciitis or calcaneal bursitis. Are you curious about how to treat Achilles tendonitis? It’s essential to identify the problem correctly so that you can get the proper treatment to improve your symptoms, relieve your pain and improve your mobility.
What Is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon, also called the calcaneal tendon, runs up the back of your ankle, connecting your calf muscle to your heel. It’s the thickest bone in your body and withstands a great deal of stress. This tendon allows you to flex and point your toe and helps you walk, run, and jump.
Achilles tendonitis develops when the tissue in this area becomes inflamed. Two areas are generally affected, including:
The connection between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone
The attachment between the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle
Although this condition is common in runners and gymnasts, it can affect anyone. It is usually caused by repetitive strain or a sudden load on the Achilles tendon. For example, going on a long hike after hibernating all winter can bring on Achilles tendonitis. So can a sudden, intense burst of movement, such as changing directions on a basketball court.
Your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones work together to support your movements. Achilles tendonitis is often linked with other structural and biomechanical issues, such as:
A shortened calf muscle
Poor range of motion in the ankle
Problems with core and lumbar stability
Do You Have These Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms?
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you usually experience mild to severe pain in the heel, back of the ankle, or calf muscle. The discomfort may come on gradually or quickly. In general, however, acute, intense pain is a sign of an Achilles tendon rupture, which can occur if Achilles tendonitis goes untreated. Heel and leg pain caused by Achilles tendonitis can be debilitating.
The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include:
Pain in the back of your lower leg
Pain in the back or bottom of your heel
Stiffness in the Achilles tendon, heel, or lower leg upon waking
Increased discomfort with physical activity
Decreased mobility in the foot or ankle
Limping or modifying movements to minimize discomfort
An Achilles tendonitis lump at the base or center of the tendon
How to Treat Achilles Tendonitis
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, treating the condition may be at the forefront of your mind. In many cases, damage to the tendon develops over time. By the time you’re in pain, the damage has been done. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not reversible. In fact, treating Achilles tendonitis as soon as possible can prevent the condition from worsening and causing additional soft tissue deterioration.
#1: Taping for Achilles Tendonitis
If you have ever seen an athlete with a distinct tape pattern on their calf or ankle, you might have wondered how to treat Achilles tendonitis using that method. Strategically adhering tape to the outside of the skin in the affected region can prevent and treat Achilles tendon pain. Taping can reduce the force on the Achilles tendon. It also supports the optimal structure of the feet and ankle. For example, you can use tape to reduce hyperextension in the ankle or reinforce the foot’s arch. A chiropractor experienced with sports injury treatment can guide you toward selecting the correct type of tape and applying it in the best pattern for your condition.
#2: Load Management
Your skeletal structure, including the tendons, needs a certain amount of activation to function optimally. Immobility and bed rest may relieve immediate inflammation following an injury. But lack of motion weakens the tendon, putting you at risk of getting the condition again. Recognizing how much load a healthy or injured Achilles tendon can handle allows you to manage the condition and perform the proper amount and types of exercise to strengthen and challenge the tendon.
Achilles tendonitis massage with compression mobilizes fluid and enhances circulation. The NormaTec Recovery System uses Achilles tendon massage with compression to promote healing and reduce swelling. In addition, if a related muscular or structural issue causes Achilles tendonitis, compression massage throughout the leg can speed recovery.
Applying cold compresses at home can ease pain and reduce inflammation. A sports injury professional can combine ice with compression using equipment that runs water through a sleeve that’s applied to your body.
#5: Cold Laser Therapy
Low-level lasers have been used to treat Achilles tendonitis heel pain for decades. This type of therapy speeds up tissue repair, relieves pain, and reduces swelling.
#6: Soft Tissue Techniques
Specific soft tissue techniques have been proven effective in how to treat Achilles tendonitis. These address the connections between the muscles, bones, and skin, detecting and softening areas of scar tissue, fibroids, or adhesions that restrict optimal movement.
Some soft tissue techniques performed by a chiropractor and sports rehabilitation specialist include:
Active release technique
Activities to Avoid when Healing Your Achilles Tendon
If you’ve been going to the chiropractor consistently and keeping up with your treatment plan, your Achilles tendonitis heel and leg discomfort should diminish. But keep in mind that certain movements can aggravate symptoms and weaken the positive effects of rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Your feet take you just about everywhere, and your Achilles tendon works hard. Modify your activity while you heal the injury to give yourself the best shot of alleviating your symptoms.
Some movements that you should limit as much as possible include:
Climbing and descending ladders
Walking up and down the stairs
Lunging, jumping, squatting, and sprinting
Walking up and down hills
Walking on uneven ground
If you want to know how to treat Achilles tendonitis at home, you should know that DIY treatments and rest are significantly less effective. Instead, an experienced chiropractor addresses the neurological, structural, vascular, and circulatory issues that could be contributing to the problem. Targeting the source of the issue with evidence-based methods can prevent the condition from becoming chronic or causing permanent damage.
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Your spine is made up of 24 vertebrae. These short chunks of bone are stacked together, forming the spinal column. Discs act as cushions that lodge between the vertebrae. They protect the bones from friction and absorb pressure as the spine curves, flexes, and shifts.
The resilient outer cartilage of each disc encases a softer, gel-like core. As people age, their discs lose elasticity. Instead of bouncing back after the bones compress it, the outer layer of a disc may develop cracks. When it ruptures, some of the material from the center of the disc escapes. The leaked nucleus may compress nerves, causing pain and discomfort.
Disc herniation usually happens in the following regions:
Lumbar disc herniation: lower back
Thoracic disc herniation: mid to upper back
Cervical disc herniation: neck
Disc herniation lumbar and cervical are the most common. The discs can protrude in any direction, including toward the spinal cord.
Sometimes, people refer to disc herniation as a slipped or ruptured disc. But what is a disc herniation vs. bulge? A bulge happens when the disc protrudes without breaking open.
How Is a Disc Herniation Diagnosis Made?
A disc herniation diagnosis is usually made by examining the patient and assessing their symptoms. In some cases, imaging scans can identify the problem. However, these tests are not always necessary. A health care professional can pinpoint a disc herniation by testing reflexes, range of motion, and vital signs.
If you have a disc herniation lumbar, the pain in your legs may be worse than the discomfort in your back. The symptoms often affect only one side of the body and worsen when you move or hunch forward.
Other symptoms that point towards a lumbar disc herniation diagnosis include:
Sciatica pain, which can radiate down your buttocks, hamstring, and calf
Numbness or tingling in the legs
Weakness in the leg, foot, or toes
Difficulty lifting the foot when walking
Dull, aching, stiff lower back
If the disc herniation is cervical, your symptoms may fall in the following range:
Pain on the back or side of the neck
Pain that radiates through the shoulder, arm, wrist, or fingers
Reduced mobility in the neckand shoulders
The pain often comes on rapidly. For example, you might turn your head to talk to a friend or bend over to pick something up, and your neck or back suddenly seizes. The pain may be intense and immobilize you for a few days. However, it typically dies down within a few days and completely resolves itself in four to six weeks.
The type and location of pain from disc herniation depend on the affected nerves. Seeing a chiropractor for disc herniation can help you learn which part of the spine is impacted and how to treat disc herniation appropriately.
How to Treat Disc Herniation
If you have been dealing with painful and debilitating symptoms, you probably wonder how to heal disc herniation. Once a disc ruptures, it may not truly heal. Although the disc may continue to have a lesion, you can treat the pain and discomfort in various ways. In fact, 70% of patients with disc herniation are free from pain within about six months.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the disc has repaired itself. Instead, it usually indicates that one of the following processes has occurred:
Your immune system has attacked the inflammatory nucleus material, reducing its particle size and removing harmful proteins.
Your body has absorbed water from the leaked fluid, reducing the pressure exerted on the nerves.
Specific movements and exercises have enhanced the spine’s mobility and taken the pressure off the discs.
In other words, even if the disc doesn’t heal, it usually stops causing pain at some point. The following treatments can reduce discomfort and speed up your recovery:
Rest in a variety of positions that alleviate the pain. For example, try using pillows to support your head, back, and hips.
Avoid staying in the same position for too long to prevent stiffness. Gentle walking can ease pain and maintain mobility.
Avoid lifting heavy items or doing intense exercise.
Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.
Butterfly stretch: Sit against a wall, bending your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be resting on the floor in front of you, and your legs should form a diamond shape. Flex your feet so that your ankles are at a 90-degree angle. As you press your back, neck, and head against the wall behind you, hold your arms straight in front of you, with your palms facing out and fingers facing to the sides. Maintain this hand position as you raise your arms above your head and hold them there for one minute.
Lying hip stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent and your feet against the floor. Lift one foot, resting that ankle on the opposite knee. For a deeper stretch, thread your hands through the open space, grabbing behind the thigh of the grounded leg. Gently pull with your hands, lifting that foot off of the floor and stretching the lower spine.
Towel stretch: Drape a hand towel behind your neck, using your hands to hold each end in front of you. Pull on the towel until you feel gentle pressure on your neck. Gently relax your head back, supporting its weight by pulling up on the ends of the towel. You should feel relief as your cervical spine extends.
It’s safest to learn disc herniation exercises from a professional. Specific soft tissue techniques can alleviate your discomfort, improve your posture and prevent the pain from returning.
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Do you have lower back or hip pain? Your piriformis muscle could be to blame. Approximately 200,000 people are diagnosed with piriformis syndrome each year. This condition affects the muscle that travels through the gluteal region and connects your sacrum to your hip bone. When this muscle is damaged, it can cause pain, uncomfortable sensations, spasms, and limited mobility.
What Is Piriformis Syndrome?
Your pelvis is surrounded by a series of interconnecting muscles. When these muscles function responsively, contracting and relaxing, they keep the other structures in this region in check. If any muscles in this network are tight, they become shorter than they are supposed to be and don’t respond reflexively to movement. They may also pull on a joint, ligament, or other muscle. Therefore, piriformis syndrome is generally a muscular disorder that can also be associated with spinal disc problems.
One of the main reasons this condition causes so much pain is that the sciatic nerve runs over or under the piriformis muscle. In some people, the nerve runs through the muscle. As the muscle swells or tightens, it puts pressure on the nerve, causing burning or shooting pain along the length of the sciatic nerve.
What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?
What is the leading cause of piriformis syndrome? It differs for everyone. In some cases, anatomical anomalies, such as different leg lengths or scoliosis, can cause piriformis syndrome. But the condition can also develop from overuse, prolonged sitting, prior hip surgery, sports injuries, and scarring.
One thing many people do that causes a tight piriformis is slouching. When your lower back is rounded and your hips are rotated outward, your piriformis muscle shortens. Sitting too much also weakens the glutes, which can make piriformis pain worse. With the average American adult sitting for six hours each day, many people could be putting themselves at risk of developing this medical issue.
Piriformis syndrome can also be caused by repetitive motions and injuries. Many long-distance runners overtrain, fatiguing the muscle without giving it enough recovery time and causing inflammation. Overusing surrounding muscles without warming up, stretching, and recovering correctly can also exacerbate the issue.
Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome
The symptoms of piriformis syndrome can mimic other medical conditions. If the condition isn’t diagnosed accurately, you may not be able to treat it effectively. In fact, piriformis syndrome is often misidentified. It may be confused with a herniated disc, sciatica, or high hamstring tendinitis.
The piriformis syndrome pain pattern follows a similar path for everyone:
Early stages: Numbness, pain, or tingling in the buttocks; low back or sciatic pain
Later stages: Pain extends down the sciatic nerve to the foot; muscle and leg pain becomes severe.
How Is Piriformis Syndrome Diagnosed?
It’s essential to identify the problem correctly in order to treat it correctly. Medical professionals can test for piriformis syndrome in multiple ways.
Side-lying test for piriformis: Also known as the FAIR test, this evaluation involves stretching and manipulating the affected leg while the patient lies on their side.
Seated test for piriformis: The patient crosses the ankle of the affected leg over the other knee while sitting upright in a chair with both feet on the ground.
Straight leg raise test: Also called the Lasegue test, this assessment helps to detect disc herniation that might accompany piriformis syndrome.
Can Piriformis Syndrome Be Treated?
Rest is essential for healing piriformis syndrome, although giving the muscle a break probably won’t fix the problem completely. Treatments that focus on aligning your pelvis, relaxing the muscles, and reducing inflammation are often used to relieve piriformis pain and prevent it from returning.
You can use the following methods at home:
Rest: It sounds simple, but your busy lifestyle might prevent you from resting as much as you should. Avoid the activities that aggravate your symptoms. You may still be able to walk, run, or train gently. Take time off from doing lunges, running up hills, jogging on uneven surfaces, or climbing stairs. It could take up to six weeks or longer for this type of injury to heal.
Piriformis syndrome massage: Any time you loosen the muscles surrounding the sciatica, you’ll relieve some pressure. Massage and foam rolling also help break up the connective tissue that pinches the nerve. Plus, it enhances circulation in the tight muscles and aids healing.
Ice: Applying ice to the muscle relieves inflammation and pressure on the sciatica. Even though the pain might extend down the back of your leg and up your lower back, you should apply the ice to the affected buttock.
Physical therapy: Several stretches and exercises can improve your mobility, reduce pain, balance out your muscles, and enhance healing. Rehabilitation techniques help you regulate your balance, coordination, strength, and flexibility.
Piriformis syndrome chiropractic care: Regular and acute chiropractic care helps you maintain alignment and treat soft tissue restrictions so that your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and tissues function in harmony.
Some tips for alleviating piriformis pain include:
Sit in a firm chair that elevates your hips slightly.
Change position and move around at least every 20 minutes.
Try a standing desk.
Warm up with glute-activation exercises before you run or work out.
Avoid over-training or running on slanted surfaces.
If you feel pain during an activity, stop what you’re doing.
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Most people are somewhat familiar with what carpal tunnel syndrome is. But symptoms aren’t always obvious, and some are downright confusing. Recognizing where carpal tunnel pain comes from provides cues for some of the activities and positions you should avoid. You can also learn some carpal tunnel syndrome exercises that may improve the condition.
What Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Actually Is
When you understand what carpal tunnel syndrome is, you get a better sense of how carpal tunnel syndrome exercises work. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the hands, wrists, forearms, elbows, and shoulders. Its symptoms range from mild to severe.
The bony side of your wrist is made up of carpal bones. However, the palm side of your wrist is softer. It contains the carpal tunnel, a narrow tube that houses nerves, tendons, and ligaments. When this passageway becomes damaged, inflamed, or compressed, it can pinch the median nerve, regulating movement and feeling in the first three fingers and thumb. As a result, the impaired nerve can’t transmit sensations properly, and you may experience numbness, tingling, and pain.
What Carpal Tunnel Symptoms Do Exercises Help With?
The spot where carpal tunnel pain begins isn’t always obvious. Symptoms may come on gradually and mildly.
When it comes to carpal tunnel, the hands are a commonly affected area. Some people have numbness in their thumb and first two fingers. Distinguishing between hot and cold sensations may be difficult. Not thinking much of it, you shake out your hand and go on with your day. Over time, you may develop pain, numbness, and weakness anywhere from your fingertips to your shoulder.
Carpal tunnel syndrome exercises help:
Prevent injury from repetitive motions
Maintain proper function and flexibility in the hands and wrists
Regain fine motor function after experiencing weakness
Relieve and prevent pain
Prevent muscle atrophy in the wrists and hands
Prevent compression in the carpal tunnel
How to Relieve Pain from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Exploring where carpal tunnel pain comes from can guide you toward a solution. If an underlying health condition exacerbates your carpal tunnel hands pain, you may find relief when you control symptoms of that disease. For example, repetitive use symptoms can be alleviated by taking more frequent breaks, relaxing your grip, and stretching.
The following carpal tunnel syndrome exercises are basic and easy to do at work, in the car, or while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Do them slowly and intentionally, and repeat the movements up to five times:
Wrist rotations – Keeping your wrists stable, move your hands side to side and up and down.
Thumb stretch – Use the opposite hand to give your thumb a gentle, backward stretch.
Finger stretches – Extend your fingers as straight and as wide as you can, then relax them.
The next group of carpal tunnel syndrome exercises provides a more intense stretch. Try them before and after doing an activity that exacerbates your symptoms:
Prayer hands – Place your palms together under your chin, with the fingers pointing up. Move your hands down to your waist while maintaining contact. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds.
Wrist flexor stretch – Holding your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing up, bend your wrists so that your fingers point to the floor. For a deeper stretch, provide gentle pressure on the fingertips with the opposite hand.
Wrist flexor stretch – Holding your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing down, bend your wrists so that your fingers point to the floor. Push on your fingers with the opposite hand to intensify the stretch.
Some movements are safer to do when your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are warm. For example, apply a hot compress to your forearms, wrists, and hands for 15 minutes before doing the following carpal tunnel syndrome exercises. Then, hold a cold compress to it for 20 minutes afterward. These exercises are excellent for working into your bedtime routine:
Medial nerve glide – Begin with your hand in a fist. Then, straighten your fingers and thumb, keeping them pressed together. Next, stretch your hand back toward your wrist before turning your palm to face upward and stretching your thumb gently backward with your opposite hand.
Tendon glide – Hold your hand in front of you, with the palm facing forward and fingers pointing up. Slowly curl your fingers into a tight fist, keeping your knuckles pointing up. You can also do this without fully curling your fingers. Instead, focus on bending straight fingers until they come close to your palm.
Here are some other tips for how to relieve pain carpal tunnel syndrome:
Don’t sleep on your hands.
Rotate your wrists and extend your fingers regularly throughout the day.
Wear a snug splint to limit wrist bending while you sleep.
Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Use cold compresses to reduce pain.
Although you might not want to hear it, using a smartphone may increase your risk of developing this condition. If you have mild symptoms, try using your phone less frequently.
Myths about the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are many myths about what carpal tunnel syndrome is, including:
Typing causes carpal tunnel syndrome – Typing for fewer than 20 hours a week doesn’t increase your risk, although your wrist position does affect carpal tunnel pressure. Maintaining a neutral wrist position keeps the pathway open.
You have carpal tunnel syndrome if your hands fall asleep – A few different conditions can cause numbness and tingling in the extremities.
Carpal tunnel is the same as tennis elbow – Carpal tunnel elbow is not a thing. However, the syndrome can cause pain in the inner elbow, making people wonder if they have a carpal tunnel of the elbow or tennis elbow. A health care provider can help you diagnose the condition.
If you ask friends, family, and social media followers about what carpal tunnel symptoms you have, you may not get accurate answers. Learn how to ease your discomfort and remedy the source of the pain by getting professional care. An experienced chiropractor or sports treatment specialist can also ensure that a different condition or an injury doesn’t cause the pain.
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