What is an Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy is a common overuse injury that affects the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is characterized by pain, stiffness, and weakness in the Achilles tendon and can limit a person’s ability to perform activities that involve the ankle joint.
Achilles tendinopathy can be caused by a variety of factors including:
Overuse or repetitive stress on the Achilles tendon, such as from running, jumping, or other high-impact activities
Sudden increases in activity level or intensity
Tight calf muscles or weak ankle muscles
Poor footwear or running mechanics
Age-related degeneration of the tendon
The symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Some common symptoms include:
Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon, particularly in the morning or after activity
Swelling and tenderness in the Achilles tendon
Weakness in the calf muscles or ankle joint
Difficulty with activities that involve pushing off the foot, such as running or jumping
How is this treated?
Treatment for an Achilles tendinopathy depends on the severity of the injury and the individual’s overall health and activity level. Some common treatment options include:
Rest and ice: Resting the affected leg and applying ice to the area can help reduce pain and inflammation
Physical therapy to provide exercises for strengthening the calf muscles, improve ankle range of motion, and address any underlying muscle imbalances or movement patterns that may be contributing to the injury
Orthotics: Custom orthotic devices can be used to improve foot alignment and reduce stress on the Achilles tendon
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to manage pain and inflammation
Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove damaged tissue from the Achilles tendon.
What does the Research say?
Recent research on Achilles tendinopathy has focused on identifying the most effective treatments for this condition. Some promising findings include:
Eccentric exercise: Eccentric exercises, which involve lengthening the Achilles tendon while it’s under tension, have been shown to be effective in reducing pain and improving function in people with Achilles tendinopathy.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy: PRP therapy involves injecting a patient’s own blood, which has been concentrated to contain a higher concentration of platelets, into the injured area. Some studies have shown that PRP therapy may be effective in reducing pain and promoting healing in people with Achilles tendinopathy.
Shockwave therapy: Shockwave therapy involves applying high-energy sound waves to the affected area to stimulate healing. Some studies have shown that shockwave therapy may be effective in reducing pain and improving function in people with Achilles tendinopathy.
How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help with Your Recovery?
Having an Achilles tendinopathy issue can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are tons of good research to support the use for physical therapy to help reduce your pain for this issue. Understand that Achilles tendinopathy may take some time to properly heal with the right intervention. Don’t get frustrated, just trust the process.
Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.