While both Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis frequently cause heel pain, you should keep in mind that both conditions are totally different. You may have a difficult time telling both conditions apart at first, though.
It is because both conditions actually trigger acute foot and heel pain that can drastically affect your overall life quality. You should, however, be able to differentiate the two as such can help you diagnose your condition correctly. Knowing their difference can also contribute a lot to finding the right treatment.
By learning their differences, you can determine the exact condition you are dealing with, thereby allowing you to find the best relief for it as soon as possible. If you have a hard time determining which of the two condition affects you, then this plantar fasciitis vs. Achilles tendonitis article will shed some light on some of your questions.
Plantar Fasciitis vs. Achilles Tendonitis: Their Individual Definitions
Plantar fasciitis is a condition, which causes heel pain. The condition is often characterized by the inflamed thick band of tissue, running across your foot’s bottom and attaches the heel bone to your toes. It often triggers a stabbing pain, which frequently happens when you take your first steps after you wake up in the morning.
Once you get up and do some more movements, you will notice the pain normally decreasing. However, it will most likely go back when you rise up from prolonged sitting or after prolonged standing. Plantar fasciitis usually affects runners.
It also has the tendency of affecting those with excess weight. In addition, those wearing shoes that have poor and insufficient support are also prone to experiencing the condition.
Achilles tendonitis, on the other hand, is a condition, which happens due to an overuse injury affecting your Achilles tendon. Such actually refers to the band of tissue, which connects your calf muscles to your heel bone.
In most cases, it affects runners who increased their running intensity and duration all of a sudden. It also tends to affected middle-aged people who are fond of playing sports, like basketball or tennis.
With the short overview of each condition, it is safe to assume that a major difference between the two is noticeable in the actual location of the pain. Note that the pain caused by plantar fasciitis often focuses more on your heel and your foot’s underside.
Meanwhile, the pain caused by Achilles tendonitis have the tendency of manifesting in numerous areas of your feet. That will be dependent on the kind of tendonitis you have. You may have a difficult time differentiating both during their earlier stages, though.
Fortunately, they differ in other ways and that’s what we will discuss in the remaining parts of this article.
Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis also differ in terms of their main causes. In normal cases, the plantar fascia serves as a bowstring, which absorbs shocks and supports your arch. Too much stress and tension applied to such bowstring will trigger the fascia to develop tears.
Tearing and stretching repetitively might also cause your plantar fascia to get inflamed or irritated. This causes the condition called plantar fasciitis to develop.
Achilles tendonitis, on the other hand, tends to happen due to the intense or repetitive strain that you put on your Achilles tendon. Note that such tendon is really valuable because you can use it in walking, jumping, running, and pushing up on your toes.
Also, remember that the tendon’s structure has the tendency of weakening as you age. Such makes it more prone to injury, especially to those who regularly take part in sports or those who suddenly increased their running program’s intensity.
You will also most likely experience a different set of symptoms for both conditions. As for plantar fasciitis, one common sign that you are suffering from it is foot pain, which tends to be really severe during the morning. You will notice the pain decreasing throughout the day when the fascia gets stretched out.
Aside from that, you will also experience other symptoms, like aching arches and stiff heel. You will also notice redness and swelling along your heel and arch. The condition is also often characterized by a sharp pain in the heel and fascia, usually causing limping, especially during the morning.
Furthermore, you will most likely experience some pain in your heel or at the foot’s bottom if you sit or stand for a long period of time.
As for Achilles tendonitis, there is a great chance for you to experience foot pain, especially during the early parts of the day. Expect the pain to get worse if you increase your physical activity.
With that in mind, some of the telltale signs that you have the condition are pain that tends to worsen when you increase your activity level, swelling, and redness, stiffness affecting your ankle and foot, and a painful and soft lump, which might develop on your tendon eventually.
Plantar Fasciitis Treatments
Now that you are aware of the differences of Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis in terms of their definitions, the location of the pain, major causes, and symptoms, it is time to move on to the treatments. Let’s talk about the treatments for plantar fasciitis first.
If you are already a hundred percent sure that you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, then rest assured that the condition is treatable. Fortunately, there are natural treatments and home and lifestyle remedies for plantar fasciitis. Some of them are:
Maintaining a healthy weight – If you are obese or overweight, then now is the right time to lose your excess weight. Note that having a healthy weight can contribute a lot to minimizing the stress that affects your plantar fascia.
Wearing supportive shoes – Dealing with plantar fascia also means that you have to stay away from high heels from now on. What you have to do is to invest in a shoe with a low to moderate heel height. It should also provide excellent arch support as well as be capable of absorbing shocks.
Avoid wearing athletic footwear, which is already worn out, too. You have to replace them before they stop to give your feet with the proper cushion and support. In case you are a runner, then you have to invest in a new pair after using your old one for around 400-500 miles.
Applying ice – Another great remedy for plantar fasciitis is the application of ice. What you have to do is to apply an ice pack covered with a cloth over the painful area. Let it stay there for around fifteen to twenty minutes. Do this 3-4 times daily or after you perform a physical activity.
You can also give ice massage a try. This involves freezing a paper cup filled with water then rolling it over the uncomfortable and painful area for around 5-7 minutes. An ice massage done regularly is a major help in minimizing pain and inflammation.
In case natural methods and remedies don’t work, though, you may have to try the procedures recommended by your doctor. Some of the medical procedures designed to treat plantar fasciitis are:
Steroid Medication Injection – What your doctor will do is to inject a kind of steroid into the affected area. Doing such will let you experience a temporary relief from pain. However, it is not recommended to undergo multiple injections as such has the tendency of weakening your fascia that might trigger it to rupture.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy – This procedure involves directing sound waves into the exact spot affected by the heel pain. Such sound waves will stimulate the process of healing. It is only often used for plantar fasciitis, which is already chronic and does not seem to respond positively to conservative and natural treatments and remedies.
There are some side effects to the therapy, though, like bruising, tingling, numbness, pain, or swelling but you can expect all these to be relieved as soon as you recover from the procedure.
Surgery – There are also severe cases wherein a surgical procedure is necessary. The surgery is necessary for detaching the fascia from the heel bone. However, one should only go for surgical means if the pain is already too severe and the other methods don’t seem to work. There’s also a side effect to this, which involves a weakened arch.
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Achilles Tendonitis Treatments
Achilles tendonitis is also a treatable condition, though, it also has a different set of treatments from that of plantar fasciitis. You can actually treat this condition through non-surgical means. Some of the best possible Achilles tendonitis treatments are the following:
Rest – If you want to reduce the pain caused by Achilles tendonitis, then one of the best things that you can do is to reduce or stop some of the activities that tend to worsen the pain. That said, you have to replace your high-impact exercises, like running, if you are engaged in one, with low-impact ones.
Choose those exercises and activities that will add less stress to your Achilles tendon. Some of the low-impact activities that you can do that can help you remain active without putting a lot of stress on your tendon are elliptical exercises, swimming, biking, and other cross-training activities.
Ice Therapy – Just like plantar fasciitis, you can also apply ice to the aching area of your Achilles tendon. You should do it for a max of twenty minutes. Make sure, however, that you stop the therapy earlier than that maximum time if you notice numbness on your skin.
What you have to do is to fill a foam cup first with water. Freeze it to produce a reusable and simple ice pack. Once the water freezes, tear off the cup’s rim. Rub the frozen ice over your Achilles tendon.
Right Footwear – It is also crucial for you to wear the right footwear if you want to handle Achilles tendonitis well. The best shoes for Achilles tendonitis are actually those that are really supportive. They should be softer at the heel’s back so they can minimize irritation affecting the tendon.
Make sure that the shoes also have enough cushioning, especially for your heel. There should also be enough arch support to minimize the tension affecting your tendon. In case of severe pain, ask your doctor for a recommendation regarding the best shoes to wear.
He/she might recommend a specific walking boot that you should wear for a short period. Such will give your tendon the opportunity to rest prior to starting any therapy.
Aside from the provided treatments, you might also try taking non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin and Ibuprofen. Make sure, however, that you take them based on the recommendation and advice of your doctor. For persistent and severe Achilles tendonitis cases, though, you might need to use a brace or cast.
Such aids in offering your tendon with enough protection from overuse and stress when you are still healing and recovering. If the pain affects you chronically, then you might also need to undergo steroid injections. Just make sure that you discuss this thoroughly with your doctor prior to trying it out.
You should also try more conservative and natural means for treating Achilles tendonitis before moving on to surgical approaches.
Both Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis are conditions affecting your feet. However, take note that they are different from each other. Make it a point to understand what each of the conditions characterizes so you will know the exact condition that’s affecting you.
The accurate diagnosis of your condition can help you determine the perfect treatment approach for it. If you are unsure, then the best thing to do is to consult a doctor and tell him exactly what you feel. Such is the key to getting an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment.
If you have pain in the ball of the foot, you should learn more the best shoes for metatarsalgia.