Achilles Tendon Injuries
Achilles tendon injuries are one of the most common sports related injuries of the foot and ankle. This tendon connects the heel bone and calf muscle and it plays an important factor in walking jumping and running. However, the scope and complexity of the injuries related to the Achilles tendon vary widely and ability to distinguish among different pathologies is essential for an effective treatment plan.
Achilles tendon injuries are classified by the anatomical zone and divided into following pathologies:
- Paratenonitis with Tendinosis
Anyone can suffer from Achilles injuries, but the most common causes are related to faulty foot biomechanics (flat feet or high arched feet), inflexibility in the calf muscle, poor footwear, poor proprioceptive response, irritation or repetitive micro trauma to the tissue, etc. Symptoms usually resolve much quicker if the treatment is offered as soon as possible preventing further damage to the tissue.
Unfortunately, in a lot of cases every athlete's pain in the back of the heel is immediately diagnosed as Achilles tendonitis and all the injuries are treated alike. The ability to differentiate paratenonitis from tendinosis or bursitis from calcified tendinosis will influence the rehab options and make a difference in the effectiveness of the treatment protocol.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- pain and discomfort in the heel and calf muscle,
- swelling and thickening of the tendon,
- increase in pain and discomfort with activity.
In some cases patients might experience a severe pain in the tendon, followed with a sudden swelling and inability to move the foot. This could indicate a case of tendon rapture and would require immediate medical attention.
Treatment of Achilles tendon injuries will depend on the type of the injury and its location. All treatments will involve a three phase rehabilitation protocol focusing on protection, healing and gradual strengthening aimed at remodeling of the tissue. However, before starting any treatment, a proper assessment is required.
Sometimes, in addition to the Achilles tendon injury, there could be a bone fracture or damage to the ligaments. There are various treatments that depend on the location and severity of the injury. Treatment may include simply resting the foot, anti-inflammatory medications, tapping, wearing proper footwear with custom orthotics, tens machine, night splints, ankle bracing, corticosteroid injections, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, needling, or laser treatments.
All our protocols are designed for the quickest recovery possible with your individual needs in mind. We will also discuss a maintenance program and make sure to educate the patient about the preventative care and provide guidance on injury prevention techniques. Achilles tendon injuries are slow to heal and if not treated properly can lead to complications resulting in more damage.