The RICE method is an effective treatment for Achilles tendonitis but there are other treatments that can also help ease the symptoms of this painful condition.

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in your body. It stretches from your heel to your calf muscles. It’s common for this tendon to get injured. Achilles tendonitis is generally caused by excessive exercise or walking but rheumatoid arthritis, infection, and aging are among the other known causes. Any repeated activity that put a strain on your Achilles tendon can potentially cause tendonitis.

There are a number of treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms of this condition.

 

Effective Achilles Tendonitis Treatments

 

The RICE Method

The rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) method is usually effective in treating Achilles tendonitis

Rest

  • Avoid putting pressure or weight on your tendon for a day or two.  The tendon usually heals faster if no additional strain is placed on it.
  • Avoid exercise for several days or do an alternative activity, such as swimming, that doesn’t put a strain on your Achilles tendon. If the symptoms are severe, you may need to wear a walking boot and use crutches.

Ice

Ice treatment may be useful for pain control and swelling.

  • Apply an ice pack to the tendon for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat several times across the day. Less than 10 minutes has little effect while more than 30 minutes may damage your skin.
  • Wrap ice cubes or a bag of frozen peas in a towel. Do not put ice directly on your skin as doing this can cause ice burn.

Compression

  • Compression helps keep the tendon from swelling too much and reduce movement of the tendon.

Wrap a bandage around the tendon to compress the injury. Don’t wrap it too tightly as it can this can limit, and even cut off blood flow to the area.

Elevation

  • Sit or lie with your foot raised above the level of your chest. When your foot is higher than your heart, blood circulation around your body is improved and helps keeps the swelling down.
  • At night, place a pillow under your foot to keep it elevated while you sleep.
  • Use a splint at night to hold your feet in a better position as you sleep.

 

Painkillers

  • Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve the pain. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Do not use ibuprofen or other NSAIDs for more than 7-14 days if you have Achilles tendinopathy, consult your doctor before use.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking them if you have Achilles tendonitis or any other medical condition, or are pregnant or a nursing mother. Always read the patient information leaflet.
  • If the over-the-counter pain medication isn’t enough, your doctor can prescribe stronger medication to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

 

Physical Therapy

Physiotherapy can help strengthen and stretch your Achilles tendon.

  • Your physiotherapist can give you exercises to do every day. These exercises will include stretching and heel-lowering movements which help reduce pain, promote healing, and strengthen the Achilles tendon and its supporting structures.
  • The physiotherapist can also help you correct problems with your posture and the way you walk. These problems contribute to Achilles tendinopathy or make it worse.

 

Orthotic Devices

A shoe insert or wedge slightly elevates your heel and can relieve strain on the tendon. It also provides a cushion that reduces the amount of force exerted on your Achilles tendon.

Treating your tendonitis right away is more likely to result in quicker recovery. Using the RICE method and other Achilles tendonitis treatments outlined above can help alleviate the symptoms of this condition. Always consult your doctor before starting any kind of treatment.