I have had acute/chronic, stubborn Achilles tendonitis for some time now – years, though only diagnosed in the last 8 months. And I have been training to walk the Camino de Santiago, so the Achilles tendonitis has been a bit of an issue.The diagnosis was tricky. I had numerous X-rays and ultrasounds, an MRI, venous studies…and blood tests. In the end, they (doctors of various kinds) could see what was happening (Achilles tendonitis and swelling around the ankles), but not why it was happening. The treatment has been equally tricky.
For the swollen ankles I took a course of anti-inflammatories – to no great effect. I wore compression socks throughout a hot summer. I rested with my legs up the wall. I wrapped them at night in soda crystals. And I iced them and strapped them. – The soda crystals were the only thing that got any real results, but it’s a bit messy. The ice helped a little too.
For the Achilles tendonitis I saw a sports physiotherapist who gave me several exercises to do 3 times each day. These have definitely helped. Without the physio I wouldn’t have been able to contemplate hiking! But I also tried some other treatment options as well. The massage specifically for my Achilles had no effect, though massages have helped to loosen up my calves that seem to live in a state of constant tightness. The cortisone injections seemed to have little effect. Then there was PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma injections – where they take your blood, whip it up in a centrifuge then inject that into your Achilles. The idea is to promote blood flow in the area and, therefore, healing. But again, there was little noticeable result. It was suggested that I have the PRP again and that results may ensue from two lots, but I have run out of time before my big hike, and each time I get these injections there is some downtime in my training.
The thing with Achilles tendonitis that I have learnt is that they do not like sudden changes. So my training has been slow and slowly incremental. To take time out for PRP injections sets my training back, and then I have to slowly build up again. At this stage, I just don’t have that time and need to keep building up the distance, load and incline so I can hike the Camino very shortly.
At this stage, my hiking is all about management of the Achilles Tendonitis and pain relief when it gets too much.