Our Physiotherapists Can Help With Your Achilles Tendinopathy Injury
Achilles tendinopathy is a relatively common overuse injury of the back of the ankle. It was originally described as Achilles tendinitis, but overwhelming scientific evidence has shown that this is not a classic inflammatory condition, and so a healthcare practitioner describing this condition as a tendinitis is – at best – being lazy. We use the term tendinopathy to describe it as an injury of the tendon, which is a more correct diagnosis.
Achilles tendinopathy is seen in runners, walkers/hikers, players of field sports, and occasionally cyclists. It usually manifests with a relatively distinctive pattern of a sharp pain or stiffness on, or just above the heel bone. The pain comes on characteristically first thing in the morning, or when first starting to walk or run. In the early stages of the injury, this pain or stiffness often then goes away, or “warms up”, during the exercise, but an hour or two after finishing the exercise, and the morning after the exercise the pain and stiffness returns – often worse than before. As the injury progresses, the pain may only lessen, but not go away as activity continues, and eventually may actually worsen during exercise.
We are currently in the midst of an exciting time for Achilles tendon research – great leaps have been made in our understanding of the injury, and how to treat it, with teams from the United States, Norway, and Australia (among others) all contributing to the body of knowledge over the past two or three decades.
Achilles tendinopathy treatment should always centre around an exercise program and activity modification, as guided by your physiotherapist. This program will cover the full spectrum of movement types – from stationary to fast, light to heavy, short to long and isolated to functional – and can take some time to complete. The length of time it takes to move through the phases of tendinopathy rehab can vary from weeks to months depending on the severity of the injury, level of activity you are attempting to return to, and other intangibles such as tissue responsiveness, At Lambton Physiotherapy and Sports medicine we can guide you through all of the steps needed for full recovery.
Appropriate secondary interventions such as massage, orthotics, joint mobilisation, etc can be utilised as your physio sees fit, but are much less likely – in isolation – to resolve symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy than exercise and load management.
It should be noted that there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that ANY injection into the tendon is not likely to be of benefit, and may actually be harmful. Surgical options should be the absolute last choice for an Achilles tendinopathy – you need to have exhausted everything else with a physiotherapist trained in the most modern treatment techniques before even thinking about this option.
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