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Natural Treatments For Achilles Tendon Pain + Symptoms, Causes, And Tips

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Natural Treatments For Achilles Tendon Pain + Symptoms, Causes, And Tips December 17, 2018

Achilles tendinitis or tendinopathy is a potentially debilitating condition that affects about 2% of the general population (1). It may have a prevalence of 42% in more active groups.

If you are actively into dancing or sports, beware. All activities that exert a sudden pressure on the heels, especially during a jump or skip, can cause your Achilles tendon to tear. The injury can be mild to moderate and is often easy to treat. Read on to know more about Achilles tendinitis and how you can use natural remedies to reduce pain and accelerate healing.

Table Of Contents

What Is The Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles tendon is the tendon that connects your calf muscles to your heels. Tendon refers to the band of fibrous collagen that helps attach the muscles to the bone. The Achilles tendon is also called the calcaneal tendon. An injury to the Achilles tendon is referred to as Achilles tendonitis or tendinitis of the heel.

It is quite common and more likely for the Achilles tendon to get injured when you are performing certain physical activities or going about your daily chores. The injury can be mild to moderate and usually feels like a burning pain or stiffness in the area around the tendon.

Severe and unbearable pain is an indication that your tendon is either partially torn or completely ruptured.

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The factors that can cause and increase your risk of developing an Achilles tendon injury are discussed right below.

Causes And Risk Factors For Achilles Tendinitis

Performing activities that need you to speed up or slow down all of a sudden can cause Achilles tendon injury. Such activities include:

  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Gymnastics
  • Football
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Baseball

Even sports activities like softball and basketball can injure your Achilles tendon. Such injuries usually occur when you push and lift your feet off the ground rather than when you land.

A few factors that can put you at a higher risk of injuring your Achilles tendon are:

  • Wearing high heels
  • Having flat feet
  • Tight tendons due to lack of exercise
  • Intake of medications like glucocorticoids or antibiotics like fluoroquinolones

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Most cases of Achilles tendonitis exhibit the following symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms Of Achilles Tendinitis

One of the most prominent symptoms of an injured Achilles tendon is mild to moderate pain right above your heel. This pain is especially evident when you stretch your ankle or try standing on your toes.

The affected area may also be:

  • Tender and inflamed
  • Swollen
  • Stiff
  • Bruised

When the Achilles tendon gets injured, it often makes a snapping or popping noise as it tears. Some individuals may also experience a shooting pain when they push their toes off the ground while taking a step.

If you go to a doctor, you are likely to be asked to take the following tests.

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Diagnosis

Your doctor may ask you to take tests like:

  •  Physical Exam – You may be asked to walk or run to look for problems that may have led to your injury.
  • Calf Squeeze Test – It involves squeezing the injured tendon and trying to move your leg. In case your Achilles tendon is torn, your leg won’t move.

If your injury is minor, it will usually heal on its own. However, for more serious injuries, your doctor may prescribe medications along with other treatments listed below.

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Treatment Methods

To treat an injured Achilles tendon, your doctor may first ask you to get ample rest.

You may also be asked to :

  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers like Ibuprofen or Naproxen.
  • Use a heel lift.
  • Stretch and exercise to strengthen the affected muscle.

While stretching and using a heel lift will undoubtedly speed up the healing of the injured tendon, taking prescription painkillers to treat the pain might result in a range of side effects. Here are a few natural remedies that can help treat the pain and speed up the healing of the injured Achilles tendon. Read on.

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How To Treat Achilles Tendinitis Naturally

  1. Ice Pack
  2. Castor Oil
  3. Vitamins
  4. Turmeric
  5. Rest
  6. Massage
  7. Essential Oils
  8. Ginger
  9. Bone Broth
  10. Omega-3

Home Remedies To Treat Achilles Tendinitis

1. Ice Pack

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You Will Need

An ice pack

What You Have To Do

  1. Place an ice pack on the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for a minute or two and then take it off.
  3. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this multiple times daily.

Why This Works

Topical application of an ice pack numbs the affected area. It also reduces pain and inflammation that may be caused by Achilles tendinitis (1).

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2. Castor Oil

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You Will Need

1 tablespoon of castor oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Take a tablespoon of castor oil and apply it to the affected area.
  2. Leave it on for about 20 minutes.
  3. You can also place a hot compress on it to increase its efficiency as a pack.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this at least twice daily.

Why This Works

Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid that helps alleviate inflammation, pain, and swelling (2). This can help in the healing of the Achilles tendon.

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3. Vitamins

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A deficiency in vitamin D was found to increase musculoskeletal pain (3). Vitamin C supplementation was proven to accelerate the healing of an injured Achilles tendon (4). Both these studies indicate that consuming foods rich in these vitamins is a great way to recover faster from Achilles tendinitis. Foods rich in vitamins C and D include citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolk.

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4. Turmeric

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You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 glass of hot milk

What You Have To Do

  1. Add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a glass of hot milk.
  2. Mix well and drink daily.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink turmeric milk once daily, preferably at night.

Why This Works

Turmeric contains a highly beneficial compound called curcumin. Curcumin possesses healing properties that can help in speeding up the healing of the ruptured tendon (5).

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5. Rest

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One of the first things that your doctor will ask you to do to deal with an Achilles tendon injury is to rest the affected tendon for a few weeks until the symptoms subside. Resting allows the affected tendon to heal faster.

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6. Massage

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Massaging the affected tendon and stretching it helps it heal faster. Deep friction massage restores tissue elasticity, alleviates pain and inflammation, and reduces the strain on the injured Achilles tendon (6).

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7. Essential Oils

a. Peppermint Oil

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You Will Need

  • 6 drops of peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil or any other carrier oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix six drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of any carrier oil.
  2. Massage this mixture gently onto the affected tendon for a few minutes.
  3. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off.
  4. You can also keep the mixture on overnight.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Peppermint oil contains menthol that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties (7). These properties help in relieving inflammation and swelling around the injured tendon.

b. Myrrh Oil

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You Will Need

  • 6 drops of myrrh oil
  • 1 teaspoon of any carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil)

What You Have To Do

  1. Add six drops of myrrh oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and massage it gently onto the affected muscle.
  3. Allow it to work on the affected area for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this twice daily.

Why This Works

Myrrh oil is both anti-inflammatory and analgesic (8). It is one of the best essentials oils that can help alleviate the symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury.

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8. Ginger

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You Will Need

  • 2 inches of ginger
  • 1 cup of water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add 2 inches of ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow the ginger tea to cool a bit before drinking it.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink ginger tea twice daily.

Why This Works

Ginger possesses analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties (9). This makes it a great remedy to treat Achilles tendinitis.

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9. Bone Broth

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You Will Need

8 ounces of freshly prepared bone broth

What You Have To Do

Consume 8 ounces, i.e., about a glass of freshly prepared bone broth.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink bone broth once daily to speed up your healing.

Why This Works

Bone broth contains chondroitin and glucosamine that can help your tendon heal quickly (10).

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10. Omega-3

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You Will Need

250-500 mg omega-3

What You Have To Do

Consume 250-500 mg of omega-3 daily.

You can increase the intake of this nutrient by consuming foods like fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds or take additional supplements for it. Consult a doctor before taking additional supplements for omega-3.

How Often You Should Do This

Incorporate omega-3s into your daily diet.

Why This Works

Omega-3 fatty acids offer multiple benefits when it comes to your health. Their anti-inflammatory effects help combat the inflammation and swelling and aid faster recovery (11).

If you want these remedies to work well and aid faster recovery, you should follow the tips mentioned below.

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Prevention Tips

  • Try and cut down on uphill running.
  • Wear shoes that support your feet and fit you well.
  • Take a break from exercising if it causes further tightness or pain in your calf or heel.
  • Practice exercises and yoga poses that require you to stretch your Achilles tendon.
  • Follow a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, berries, nuts, and fish like salmon and mackerel to alleviate symptoms of pain.

Usually, Achilles tendinitis is hardly a cause for concern. Minor injuries may even heal on their own without the need for any further treatment. However, if your calf or ankle has constantly been paining for more than a few weeks, visit a doctor immediately to rule out other causes.

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Hope the remedies and tips in this post help you recover faster from Achilles tendinitis. Do you know of any other remedies that might help? Let us know in the comment box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

When to see a doctor for Achilles tendinitis?

If the pain around the Achilles tendon doesn’t go away even after a few days, or if it tends to get worse, see your doctor immediately.

How long does it take for a strained Achilles tendon to heal?

It may take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks for the Achilles tendon to heal completely.

When is surgery needed for Achilles tendinitis?

Leaving Achilles tendinitis untreated can cause it to turn chronic. Chronic Achilles tendinitis can make even simple tasks like walking difficult, and it often needs to be repaired surgically.

What type of shoes is best to wear if you have Achilles tendon injury?

Those suffering from Achilles tendinitis must wear shoes that fit them properly and are comfortable to walk in. Shoes with built-up heels and that are cushioned are good for treating Achilles tendinitis.

What is the healing time for Achilles tendon tear?

An Achilles tendon tear usually heals in 6 weeks. But it may take up to 6 months for the patients to resume full activity.

References

  1. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury” Postgraduate Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  2. Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation” Mediators of Inflammation, US National Library of Medicine
  3. Vitamin D Deficiency Promotes Skeletal Muscle Hypersensitivity and Sensory Hyperinnervation” Journal of Neuroscience, US National Library of Medicine
  4. High-dose vitamin C supplementation accelerates the Achilles tendon healing in healthy rat” Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Curcumin improves tendon healing in rats: a histological, biochemical, and functional evaluation.” PubMed
  6. Achilles Tendinopathy: Current Concepts about the Basic Science and Clinical Treatments” Biomed Research International, US National Library of Medicine
  7. The anti-inflammatory activity of L-menthol compared to mint oil in human monocytes in vitro: a novel perspective for its therapeutic use in inflammatory diseases” European Journal of Medical Research, US National Library of Medicine
  8. Frankincense and myrrh suppress inflammation via regulation of the metabolic profiling and the MAPK signaling pathway” Scientific Reports, US National Library of Medicine
  9. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) as an Analgesic and Ergogenic Aid in Sport: A Systemic Review” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, US National Library of Medicine
  10. Does bone broth have health benefits?” Northwell Health.
  11. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain.” Surgical Neurology, PubMed.