Achilles Tendon Injury and Treatment

achilles tendonIf you have injured your Achilles tendon, you may already know how incredibly painful and disruptive to your life it can be.  It can persist for years, and may even be painful for you to move or put weight on it, if you have tendonitis, tendonosis, tendonopathy, or scar tissue build up in the achillies tendon.  But you don’t have to live like this there is help!

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and is vulnerable to injury because of it’s limited blood supply and the combination of forces it is subjected to.  It is not just professional athletes that injure their achilles tendon, recreational runners, dancers, gymnasts, industrial workers, as well as house wives are susceptible to injury.  It is used in almost every perceivable motion on your feet and is responsible for pushing off with your foot while climbing the stairs or even walking.

Once you have injured you’re achillies tendon it is nearly impossible to get a complete recovery without proper treatment. The untreated injury will leave you with residual scar tissue will make the tendon easily aggravated with the simplest of tasks and vulnerable to rupture or tears in the future.  So what should you do?

Treatment Options for Achilles Tendon Injuries in Fort Collins

Treatment plans for Achilles tendon tendonopathies depends largely on the severity of the injury.  The options for treatment range from conservative to invasive.  By following proper treatment, most Achilles injuries heal within two to six weeks, but may take longer depending on injury severity and patient compliance.  Crutches may be used to assist you during walking during your initial recovery.  Consult your healthcare provider to reduce the risk of re-injury or setbacks.

Swelling and pain are the body’s way of signaling you to take a time out and rest so that you don’t injure yourself further.  Applying ice in 20 minute intervals four to five times a day in the beginning stages is a good way to reduce swelling and control pain.  Caution should be used when icing due to the potential of tissue damage. Avoid icing for longer periods of time than directed.

ICE BATH:  An even more effective strategy for new injuries is to use an ice bath.  This is best done at home with an empty trash can or bucket with cold water and one-third ice.  Place your foot and entire calf into the bucket for 15 minutes or until your calf become numb, whichever comes first.

CONTRAST THERAPY: aka Hot/Cold Inversion Therapy is used to speed up the process of reducing inflammation, by using the pumping action of vasoconstriction and dilation.  This helps to break up fibrin plugs that formed from tissue damage, so that local lymphatic channels can reopen to reduce the swelling to the injured area.

This is performed by using two tubs, new trash cans work beautifully, filled with 12 to 16 inches of water each.  The level depends on how much water it takes to cover your calf.  One will be an ice bath with cold water and one-third ice, and the other will be warm water about 100-degree Farenheight. You should then place the affected leg in the ice bath for one minute and then into the warm bath for one minute, alternate back and forth for 11 minutes being certain to finish with the ice bath.  If at any time you feel nauseous, dizzy or experience chest pains stop and consult a health care professional.

PASSIVE THERAPIES:  Passive therapies are those which the patient has no active part in and only require you to relax while the therapy is performed. Therapies such as muscle stimulation, ultrasound, and cold laser have been proven effective to help with reducing painful symptoms, decreasing local swelling, retarding muscle wasting, and stimulating healing.

ANKLE SUPPORTS AND BOOTS:  To provide temporary support and stability to the injured Achilles tendon, supports can be used as a short-term solution. They can prevent motions that may cause re-injury to the vulnerable joint.  Bracing may include the use of air splints, lace-up ankle braces, elastic wraps, Kinesio-taping, or removable cast boots.  Long-term use of braces is not advised because it deconditions the musculature surrounding the joint, weakens ligaments, and can cause bone density loss.

MYOFASCIAL RELEASE AND MUSCLE WORK:  Whenever there is an injury to an area swelling occurs which causes fibrosis or scar tissue.  Some of this may be broken up by stretching or massage, but the remaining scar tissue will need to broken up by techniques such as Graston, SASTM, Myofascial release and/or ART.

CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS:  Chiropractic care helps to restore function to joints of the pelvis, foot, and lower extremity that are “locked up”, fixated, and not moving properly, which affects the normal function of the achillies tendon.  Muscles, tendons, and ligaments depend upon proper joint movement to function at optimal levels.  Normalizing joint function helps speed the healing of soft tissues and reduces the deconditioning effect of being immobilized.

REHABILITAION:  Mobilization of the ankle should be performed lightly as soon as tolerated to avoid long-term stiffness, as well as contracture or shortening of the achillies tendon.    A physical therapy program consisting of range of motion exercises, stretching, muscle strengthening should be employed.  Special attention should be paid to movement patterns and the retraining of them.

Another component of this rehabilitation process includes retraining the ankle joint to protect itself against abnormal movements.  Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense movement and position of your body.  Nerve endings in the ankle or leg may have been affected during the injury, making this process more difficult.  Retraining your faulty movement firing patterns will help train the body to protect itself from abnormal motion that can cause re-injury.  This is accomplished by using physical therapy devices such as a wobble board and unstable surfaces to retrain the leg for uneven terrain and endurance activities.

So now that you know help is available, give us a call right now at 970-491-9191, so you can begin your path to recovery as quickly as possible!

This article is not written for the purposes of diagnosing, treating, or rehabilitating any condition, symptom, or disease. This information is solely advisory, and should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history. We cannot be held responsible for actions you may take without a thorough exam or appropriate referral. If you have any further concerns or questions, please let us know. Please have your condition evaluated by a healthcare professional.