Tendon injuries like achilles tendonitis are pretty common and can be very painful. If left untreated and unmanaged, your tendons can break which can cause immense pain and possible irreversible damage to your legs. Several treatments are available to help you manage them and avoid further injury. In this article, we’ll explore some treatments and the best essential oils for achilles tendonitis relief.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis (or tendinitis) is the injury of the Achilles tendon–the largest tendon of the body that connects our calf muscles to the heel bone. This tendon is responsible for most of the mobility of our lower body; it allows us to walk, run, jump, and stand on our toes.
Because of its responsibility for how mobile we are, movement causes wear and tear on the tendon which causes it to be very prone to injury.
The Achilles tendon is just one of the many tendons in our body that can get injured. You might have heard about ‘golfer’s elbow’, ‘pitcher’s shoulder’, ‘tennis elbow’, or ‘jumper’s knee’; tendonitis can also occur in the tendons we have in the elbows, shoulders, knees, and wrists.
Causes and symptoms
Achilles tendonitis is caused by repeated strain and overuse of the said tendon. There are also certain factors that increase the likelihood of developing tendonitis such as sudden increase of physical activity, going on intense physical activity without warming up or conditioning the body, and straining the body without giving it a chance to rest.
There are also medical predispositions that make one more likely to develop tendonitis like arthritis and joint degeneration that comes with age.
There are two types of Achilles tendonitis: noninsertional and insertional tendonitis.
A noninsertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when fibers in the middle of the tendon can break down and swell. Insertional Achilles tendonitis occurs when the tendon gets into the heel bone and causes bone spurs–growth on the ends of the bone that can cause nerve pressure and friction against other bones.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain and swelling on the back of your ankles or the back of your knee,
- Pain and soreness along the entire length of your leg (which could worsen with physical activity),
- Soreness and inflammation of the area around the heels of your feet, and
- Pain and soreness that come after intense physical activity such as running or jumping.
It is recommended that you go seek professional medical help if the pain and swelling persists for more than a few days. It is best that you seek medical advice at the first signs of pain to avoid complete tearing or rupturing of the Achilles tendon.
Once you’ve sought medical advice, your doctor would most likely ask you to slow down or even completely halt on the physical activity. You might have heard an acronym that is quite popular among athletes in treating injuries: the RICE method: Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation.
Resting allows the body to recover and deal with the injury on its own. This means to avoid putting any strain on the tendons and muscles of the legs. Ice or cold compress is a way to alleviate the inflammation of the tendon. Compression means to put compression bands or wraps to also help reduce swelling and limit movement. Elevating the legs above the level of the chest while lying down lets gravity assist the blood flow to the heart to reduce inflammation and speed up recovery.
Doctors might also prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine which can be bought over the counter to help in managing inflammation.
Cortisone shots might also be considered in more extreme cases. Physical therapy is also available to provide a whole plan of recovery to anyone suffering from any kind of tendonitis.
There are also alternative treatments that can be explored, especially when you’re just feeling the onset of the symptoms.
Chiropractic treatment has been found as a great option as chiropractors usually make adjustments on your joints and body to help you feel the pain less and prevent further injury. Acupuncture is also said to have had profound effects in managing the pain and swelling that comes with Achilles tendonitis.
Of course, essential oils have also grown in popularity as they provide many benefits and can provide a holistic way of treating and managing tendonitis pain.
Best Essential oils for tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis can manifest in many different ways. While, generally, pain and soreness in the foot and/or legs is a common symptom, some tendonitis sufferers might not experience swelling or muscle tensions. Some cases are said to have the muscles spasm uncontrollably.
We’ll break it down and offer you the best essential oils for tendonitis pain and its other symptoms.
To Relieve Pain
Achilles tendonitis pain can sometimes get unbearable and could limit your ability to be mobile. Luckily, there are essential oils that are powerful analgesics and have pain relieving qualities.
Peppermint oil is a popular pain reliever. One of the active compounds in the oil, menthol, is an ingredient to many analgesic ointments and pain relief pads; these also contain methyl salicylate, which is an active compound found in wintergreen oil.
Sweet marjoram oil is a mild sedative and a natural painkiller that also helps manage pain and tenderness in the affected area.
Lavender oil is also another popular analgesic. It’s soothing scent also helps calm the nerves and mind of anyone suffering the pains of tendonitis, especially when diffused.
To Manage Swelling and Inflammation
There are essential oils that can be used to specifically manage the swelling and inflammation that comes with achilles tendonitis pain.
Ginger oil has been used for treating many medical conditions for centuries. Ginger has been found to be more potent than many other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in dealing with pain and swelling.
Aside from being a strong analgesic, geranium oil is also a potent anti-inflammatory along with chamomile. Eucalyptus oil is also an ingredient to many over-the-counter creams that is used to treat and manage joint pains.
To Manage Tension and Spasms
Achilles tendonitis can come with muscle tensions and spasms that can be quite unbearably painful. Juniper and peppermint oils are very powerful antispasmodics and are among the best essential oils to use in treating muscle spasms that come with tendonitis.
Helichrysum oil contains compounds that help relax and calm down tense muscles and prevent them from going on a spasmic fit. Aside from being an analgesic, sweet marjoram oil is also very effective in managing tension and spasms.
How To Use Essential Oils for Tendonitis
One of the most effective ways to use essential oils for tendonitis is to use it as a salve, incorporate it in hot or cold compress, or use it in the bath.
Use essential oils from the best brands we recommend to ensure the best results.
Always remember to dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil when used directly on the skin and always do a patch test on an unaffected part of your body. If you observe any adverse reactions, discontinue use immediately.
As a topical salve
Mix 3-5 drops of the essential oil or oils of your choice with an ounce of carrier oil. You can use this essential oil blend as a lotion that you can directly apply on the affected area for instant relief.
You can also put this essential oil blend in a roller bottle so you can use it anytime anywhere. It is best that you apply this salve before and after physical activity or when you’re resting and elevating your feet.
This essential oil blend is also effective to use on tendonitis in other areas of the body such as the elbow, shoulder and wrists.
On Warm or Cold Compress
Both warm and cold compresses can provide relief from muscle tensions and soreness that come with tendonitis. A warm compress helps rush the blood to the affected area to speed up recovery and relax the muscles. A cold compress helps reduce the swelling and alleviate pain.
Pour 1-5 drops of the essential oil/s of your choice in a basin of warm or cold water for a warm or cold compress. Dip the washcloth and wring out excess water; place the washcloth directly over the affected area.
In your bath
You can use essential oils in the bath to further reap the benefits of essential oils in treating Achilles tendonitis.
The best way to use them is to pour 5-20 drops of essential oils in a tub or warm water. Make sure that it’s not too hot, just enough that you can get in for a nice bath to dip your whole body in (preferably the whole part that’s affected too).
Of course, one of the most popular ways to enjoy essential oils is by diffusing them for aromatherapy. Pour 3-5 drops of essential oils to 100mL of water in an essential oil diffuser and enjoy the soothing scents.
Lavender, peppermint, wintergreen and juniper oils are among the best to use for aromatherapy since they have very soothing scents.
Tendonitis of any kind–Achilles, tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, pitcher’s shoulder–can be pretty painful and debilitating if left untreated. Always listen and take note of your body; don’t strain yourself too much, do some proper stretches and warm up before any vigorous physical activity. Don’t brush off any pain as this can lead to irreversible damage in the future.