The Achilles tendon is the thickest tendon in the human body. It connects the bones of the calf and heel. Because it’s such a frequently and heavily used part of the body, it’s vulnerable to a number of problems including rupture, inflammation and degeneration (tendinosis).
A problematic Achilles tendon can be quite painful and can curtail normal activity involving walking or running. As long as the injury is not very severe, an Achilles tendon can heal on its own, but it can take some time. Although the pain and the swelling may drastically reduce after around 3-6 weeks, complete healing can take several months. This is because the muscles need time to restore and rebuild their strength.
Even if you aren’t experiencing a lot of pain, you may still experience some soreness and slight leg weakness for months. During this time it’s highly discouraged to engage in any aggressive activities that put undue stress on your weakened Achilles tendon.
If the injury is more severe, you may be in a cast for up to eight weeks. Following that, you’ll still have plenty of rehabbing to do before you’re ready to resume former activities.
How to speed up healing:
- Give your leg as much rest as possible during the weeks immediately after the injury. Use crutches if you have to.
- Ice the leg for half an hour every day until the pain and swelling have gone down.
- You can also wrap your leg with a bandage to fight swelling.
- When you are sitting or lying down, place your leg in an elevated position.
- After the first few weeks, start doing gentle stretches and strength exercises.
- If you’re not sure if you’re healing properly, visit your doctor for treatment recommendations.