Achilles tendon / Foot pain

Be-Your-Own Therapist Home Treatment for Common Foot Pain

  • Most minor toe, foot, or ankle problems go away on their own. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • If you have swelling, be sure to remove all rings, anklets, or any other jewelry that goes around your leg or ankle. It will be more difficult to remove your jewelry if swelling increases, which in turn can cause other serious problems, such as nerve compression or restricted blood flow.
  • Use rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) for pain and swelling.
  • Stop, change, or take a break from any activities that cause your symptoms.
    • Avoid "running through the pain," which may increase damage to your foot.
    • Consider changing your exercise routine if you think running or another high-impact sport is causing your foot pain. Switch temporarily to a low-impact exercise activity, such as cross-country skiing, stair-climbing machines, bicycling (regular or stationary), rowing, or swimming.
    • Use sensible sports training techniques, such as wearing the right shoes and stretching before activities.
  • Gently massage your feet to reduce discomfort, relax your feet, and promote circulation.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes and socks. See tips on good footwear to learn how to choose the right shoes for you.
  • Consider using an orthotic shoe device, such as an arch support, to help relieve your foot pain.
  • Try heel-cord exercises to increase your strength and flexibility if your heel or heel cord (Achilles tendon) is tight and painful. This may help relieve your heel pain.

Massage Technique for Foot or Ankle Pain

Learn massage techniques for Plantar Fasciitis how to do physical therapy exercises to relieve foot and ankle pain in this free online instructional video. 


Try home treatment for these other foot problems such as:

  • Foot cramps. Try the following home treatment to help relieve leg cramps:
    • Straighten your leg.
    • Hold your foot and pull it toward you. It is probably easiest to do this from a sitting position. You can loop a towel around the end of your foot and pull it toward you if you have trouble reaching your foot.
    • Gently rub or massage your foot.
  • Calluses and corns. Home treatment may help relieve discomfort from corns, calluses, or other thickened skin:
    • To thin a corn or callus, rub the thickened skin with a towel after a shower or bath.
    • Use a pumice stone after bathing to reduce the tissue. Do not do this if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, an immune system problem, or have been told that you have poor circulation in your feet.
    • Pad pressure areas with doughnut-shaped felt, moleskin patches, or lamb's wool.
    • Never cut corns or calluses. Infection may develop.
    • Some lotions and moisturizers may also relieve symptoms from corns and calluses. 
  • Blisters. Home treatment for blisters depends on whether the blister is small or large and whether it has broken open.
  • Swollen ankles and feet. Try the following home treatment measures to reduce swelling in your ankles and feet:
    • Elevate swollen feet and ankles on a footstool or pillows (above the level of your heart) when sitting for any length of time.
    • Get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour if you sit for any length of time.
    • Cut down on your salt (sodium) intake. Sodium can be hidden in foods such as cheese, canned soups, and salad dressing. Consider making your own salt substitute. Talk to your doctor before trying a salt substitute.

Achilles Tendon

What is the Achilles tendon?

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It lets you rise up on your toes and push off when you walk or run.

What are common Achilles tendon problems?

The three main problems found in the Achilles tendon are:

Tendinitis. This actually means "Inflammation of the tendon," but inflammation is rarely the cause of tendon pain.

Tendinosis. This refers to tiny tears (microtears) in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse. In most cases Achilles tendon pain is the result of tendinosis, not tendinitis. Some experts now use the term tendinopathy to include both inflammation and microtears. But many doctors may still use the term tendinitis to describe a tendon injury.

Achilles tendon tear or rupture. An Achilles tendon also can partially tear or completely tear (rupture). A partial tear may cause mild or no symptoms. But a complete rupture causes pain and sudden loss of strength and movement.

Problems with the Achilles tendon may seem to happen suddenly, but usually they are the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time.

What causes Achilles tendon problems?

Achilles tendon problems are most often caused by overuse or repeated movements. These movements can happen during sports, work, or other activities. For example, if you do a lot of pushing off or stop-and-go motions when you play sports, you can get microtears in the tendon. Microtears can also happen with a change in how long, hard, or often you exercise. Microtears in the tendon may not be able to heal quickly or completely.

Being out of shape or not warming up before exercising may also cause Achilles tendon problems. So can shoes with poor arch supports or rigid heels.

An Achilles rupture is most often caused by a sudden, forceful motion that stresses the calf muscle. This can happen during an intense athletic activity or even during simple running or jumping. Middle-aged adults are especially likely to get this kind of injury.


A rupture most often occurs in sports such as basketball, racket sports (including tennis), soccer, and softball. A tendon already weakened by overstretching, inflammation, or small tears is more likely to rupture.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Achilles tendon problems include swelling in the ankle area and mild or severe pain. The pain may come on gradually or may only occur when you walk or run. You may have less strength and range of movement in the ankle.

A rupture of the Achilles tendon may cause a sudden, sharp pain. Most people feel or hear a pop at the same time. Swelling and bruising may occur, and you may not be able to point your foot down or stand on your toes.

How are Achilles tendon problems diagnosed?

Your doctor can tell if you have an Achilles tendon problem by asking questions about your past health and checking the back of your leg for pain and swelling. The doctor may ask: How much pain do you have? How did your injury happen? Have you had other injuries in the ankle area? If your symptoms are severe or do not improve with treatment, your doctor may want you to get an X-ray, ultrasound scan, or MRI.

How are they treated?

Treatment for mild Achilles tendon problems includes rest, over-the-counter pain medicine, and stretching exercises. You may need to wear well-cushioned shoes and change the way you play sports so that you reduce stress on the tendon. Early treatment works best and can prevent more injury. Even in mild cases, it can take weeks to months of rest for the tendon to repair itself. It’s important to be patient and not return too soon to sports and activities that stress the tendon.

Treatment for severe problems, such as a torn or ruptured tendon, may include surgery or a cast, splint, brace, walking boot, or other device that keeps the lower leg from moving. Exercise, either in physical therapy or in a rehab program, can help the lower leg get strong and flexible again. The tendon will take weeks to months to heal. Although treatment for Achilles tendon problems takes time, it usually works. Most people can return to sports and other activities.

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