Note: For serious cases of Achilles tendonitis, always consult a doctor.
Achilles tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis) refers to an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon that attaches your calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel.
Tendonitis due to overuse is most common in younger and middle-aged people who participate in sports like running, gymnastics, dance, football, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis and volleyball. It can affect both professional and amateur athletes.
This problem occurs due to sudden increases in the amount or intensity of physical activity, not stretching properly before exercising, running on hard surfaces and doing lots of jumping.
It can also be caused by wearing high heels for extended hours and not wearing shoes with proper support. Factors that may increase your risk include problems with the feet like flat feet, conditions like obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure and taking certain types of antibiotics.
This main symptom of Achilles tendonitis is pain along the back of your leg and above your heel, especially when walking or running.
Episodes of more severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing or sprinting. Other symptoms include swelling, tenderness when touched, stiff muscles and difficulty standing or walking.
You can treat most cases of Achilles tendonitis with relatively simple home remedies. However, more-serious cases can lead to an Achilles rupture, making surgery the only solution, so seek medical care in these cases.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for Achilles tendonitis.
1. Cold Compresses
A cold compress helps reduce pain and swelling, two main symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. It will also help relax the affected muscles.
- Put a few ice cubes in a thin towel and tie it securely.
- Apply this ice pack to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day, as needed.
Instead of ice, you can also use a bag of frozen peas.
Note: Do not apply ice directly on the skin, as it may cause frostbite.
2. Warm Wraps or Elastic Bandages
You can use warm wraps or compressive, elastic bandages to reduce the amount of stress placed on the affected muscles. This in turn decreases swelling and pain as well as speeds up the healing process. You can easily find warm wraps or elastic bandages in the market.
Wrap your foot and lower leg with an elastic bandage or compression wrap. Try to keep your leg elevated to reduce blood flow to the area. Keep it wrapped for a few days or until you get relief from the swelling and soreness.
Avoid wrapping it too tightly, which can lead to poor circulation, and be sure to loosen the wrap if you have increased pain or other symptoms.
Massage is another good way to treat Achilles tendonitis. A gentle massage will help increase circulation, relax the muscles, and reduce swelling and stiffness. For massaging, you can use olive, coconut, sesame or mustard oil.
- Slightly warm some oil of your choice.
- Using your fingers, gently massage the lower part of your foot and heel with the oil for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily until the pain subsides.
If you cannot massage on your own, get help from a friend or a professional massage therapist.
Another good treatment for Achilles tendonitis is acupuncture. According to a 2013 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, acupuncture may help improve pain and activity in patients with chronic Achilles tendonitis as compared with eccentric exercises.
Acupuncture helps increase the blood volume and oxygen saturation to the Achilles tendon, which in turn reduces pain and swelling.
Always look for an acupuncture expert with experience treating Achilles tendonitis.
5. Castor Oil
You can also try castor oil to ease the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. The oil is mainly comprised of ricinoleic acid, an anti-inflammatory agent.
According to a 2001 study published in the Naunyn-Schmiedeberg’s Archives of Pharmacology, ricinoleic acid in castor oil possesses capsaicin-like, dual pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory properties, which are observed upon acute and repeated application, respectively.
Topically apply castor oil to the site of the pain 2 or 3 times a day. This helps relieve pain and minimize inflammation of the tendon.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps relieve inflammation and pain by getting rid of free radicals that may be contributing to it. Vitamin E also improves circulatory function, which reduces swelling and promotes healing.
- Use vitamin E oil to massage the affected area, 2 or 3 times a day until you get complete relief from the pain.
- Also, eat vitamin E-rich foods or take vitamin E supplements, after consulting a doctor, to help your body recover quickly.
7. Epsom Salt
Another effective remedy for Achilles tendonitis is an Epsom salt soak. The magnesium in Epsom salt promotes healing of sore and injured muscles. It also helps relax the muscles and reduce pain and swelling.
- Add ½ cup of Epsom salt to a small tub filled with warm water.
- Stir well, until the salt is dissolved.
- Soak the affected leg in this warm water for about 30 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a week for a few weeks.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also an effective home remedy for Achilles tendonitis due to its anti-inflammatory and alkalizing properties. It can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Add 1 cup of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a small tub of hot water. Soak the affected leg in it for 20 to 30 minutes. Do this once daily until you recover completely.
- Also, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon honey to a glass of water. Drink it twice a day for best results.
Another natural remedy for Achilles tendonitis is turmeric. The spice contains a chemical compound called curcumin that serves as an anti-inflammatory to effectively reduce pain and swelling.
- Boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of milk and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add a little honey and drink this turmeric milk twice daily to promote healing.
- You can also take curcumin supplements, but only after consulting a doctor.
Ginger is great for pain and inflammation-related problems. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. In addition, it will improve circulation to the area.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, simmer 1 tablespoon of thinly sliced ginger in 1½ cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink it. Include ginger in your daily cooking as well.
- Another option is to take a supplement, but only after consulting your doctor.
- You can also massage the affected area with ginger oil a few times daily.
- When suffering from Achilles tendonitis, rest your leg as much as possible. Avoid putting weight on your leg, which will delay healing.
- Keep the affected leg elevated to promote healing. Prop your leg up on a pillow when you are sitting or lying down.
- When recovering from Achilles tendonitis, increase your activity level gradually. Start slowly and increase the duration and intensity of training slowly.
- Avoid activities that put excessive stress on your tendons, such as running on hills or climbing stairs.
- Take time to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon in the morning, before exercise and after exercise to prevent recurrence.
- Wear shoes that provide adequate cushioning for your heel while exercising.
- Replace worn-out shoes with new, well-cushioned shoes.
- Do exercises to strengthen your calf muscles.
- Avoid daily wearing of high heels, as it tends to increase your risk of developing Achilles tendonitis.