You may have also felt a pop or sudden snapping sensation at the ankle. You could be suffering from something known as Achilles tendonitis. This injury can be very challenging to treat as a physician and very frustrating from the patients perspective.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
The Achilles tendon is a strong thick ligament located at the base of the calf muscle and attaches to the heel. You may have experienced pain in this area, which is commonly referred to as Achilles tendonitis. This is a common overuse injury seen in runners, and tennis players. Problems can arise when there is an increase in both intensity and duration of workouts. Court based sports is another area that can cause injury due to the constant, multi- directional movements required by the athlete. Over time small tears can occur in the tendon leading to both inflammation and scar tissue formation. Once scar tissue formation occurs this can lead to adhesions in the tendon decreasing the mobility of that tendon. Symptoms of this injury may include pain and stiffness along the tendon, into the back of the heel. Severe pain is sometimes noticed the day after an intense workout. In severe cases swelling may be visualized at the site of injury and often worsens throughout the day especially with prolonged walking.
Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
Due to the overuse of the Achilles tendon, an exact mechanism is difficult to identify when an apparent trauma is not present. Physical exam, diagnostic ultrasound and x-ray imaging help make the clinical diagnosis. A majority of cases of Achilles tendonitis occur due to the repetitive overuse placed on the tendon. Problems arise when we begin pushing too hard through workouts, demanding too much, too soon from our bodies. Predisposing factors, alt
hough some often difficult to identify without further testing, can also cause irritation. The issues that can predispose us to Achilles tendonitis may include bones spurs and tight calf muscles. A bone spur often may develop on a bone in our foot known as the calcaneus (heel), which can lead to irritation of the tendon. Tightness of the calf can also put added stress on the tendon, making the tendon susceptible to injury.
Physical therapy may be the solution
Physical therapy is a form of healthcare designated to problems with the musculoskeletal system that often make it difficult for us to move without pain. Physical therapists will help strengthen and rehabilitate injured structures getting you better, faster! After a thorough physical therapy examination your therapist will talk to you about the problems you are having and how he or she can work with you to strengthen and rehabilitate the injury.
Most injuries to the Achilles tendon respond well to conventional non-surgical treatments, if appropriate action is taken. Due to the chronic nature of this condition, it may take several months for problems to resolve. Rest is the first step taken in order to reduce pain. Activity modification is a major factor when dealing with an Achilles tendon injury. This includes switching high power exercises to lower power intensities in order to reduce the demand on the tendon. Healthcare experts will often incorporate cross training, in order to prevent de-conditioning of individuals. Ice is also a great way to help recover from this injury.
At Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine we incorporate state of the art vasopneumatic compression therapy (cryotherapy with compression) known as GameReady™, to help decrease swelling. Typically Achilles tendon injuries respond very well to physical therapy. Physical Therapy can help to reduce the pain and inflammation initially, and once the early stages of the injury are taken care of, the physical therapist will help re-condition and strengthen the area. Getting you back to a healthy and active lifestyle.
If you find yourself struggling with this type of injury, or know someone that may be suffering please feel free to contact one of our patient care coordinators at 908-754-1960 or you may contact us online.
About the Authors:
Joseph Mejia D.O., F.A.A.P.M.& R, is a graduate of University of Michigan and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine. Dr. Mejia received his Fellowship Training in Interventional Pain Management from University of Medicine and Dentistry. He has advanced training in Regenerative Medicine and is the Medical Director and Partner of Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.
Vincent J. Diana D.C. is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College. He is a Board Certified Chiropractic Physician with licenses held in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Diana is a Chiropractic Physician at Performance Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine.