The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles in the back of your leg to your heel. The tendon can become inflamed with single activities such as skiing, or with repetitive activities such as running. A sudden increase in running miles, extra jumping, hiking, or walking can also irritate the Achilles. As the Achilles tendon can be subjected to forces of up to 12 times body weight during certain activities, a massive amount of force over a short period of time or even less force over many miles-- can both lead to Achilles tendonosis.
Injuries range from mild irritation to complete rupture. The pain and inflammation can be easily treated with rest, ice, and over-the-counter medications when the tendon is merely irritated. For Achilles injuries that last longer than several weeks, active treatment may be necessary.
Signs and Symptoms of Achilles Tendonosis
Pain and soreness in the Achilles is the most common sign. It can range from a dull ache to sharp stabbing pains. People may have difficulty walking or climbing stairs. As it worsens the pain will feel more intense and will occur more frequently. Often times the Achilles will feel better after "warming up" or moving for several minutes. The pain will then return after resting.
The Achilles will usually have an area that is tender to the touch and may have a bump or swollen area. As the injury progresses this area may become more swollen and sore.
Causes of Achilles Tendonitis
The Achilles tendon can be thought of a large rope that connects the muscles to the heel bone. Every step causes the muscle to contract and pull on the rope. Too much stress too soon causes the rope to "fray." The "fraying" is the Achilles tendonitis. The frayed rope then has to heal all the frayed fibers. However, every step we take places stress on the rope and can slow the healing or aggravate it.
Activities that cause the Achilles tendons to fray include jumping, or taking quick steps with basketball or tennis. Additionally, running places tremendous stress on the Achilles and this tendon is commonly injured with quickly increasing the running or training miles. Running hills or plyometrics also causes large amounts of forces and stress to occur on the Achilles, and should be avoided if the tendon is inflamed and/or sore.
Treatment for Achilles Tendonosis
Ice and rest will decrease the swelling and encourage healing. It the Achilles tendon fails to respond to this initial treatment, additional treatment may be required which can include electric therapy, ultrasound, and proprioceptive therapy.
Stretching of the calves and hamstrings may be required to reduce stress and tension on the Achilles tendon. Modification to activities and training schedules is often appropriate to reduce Achilles tendon stress.
Excessive foot pronation may be contributing Achilles tendonosis and exercises to increase muscle strength of the foot arch is often helpful. Orthotics can be utilized to provide additional arch support.
Our office utilizes Graston Technique to speed healing of the Achilles tendon. Graston Technique has been found to increase healing through improving flexibility, range of motion, and speed fibroblast cell activity (cells that heal the tendon). People report very positive results from utilizing the Graston Technique, and they see results very quickly, especially when compared to other treatment options.
Prevention of Achilles Injuries
Prevention of Achilles tendonitis can be achieved with slowly increasing activity, purchasing quality foot wear, stretching, and cross-training. People who have had a history of Achilles problems need to be conservative with their exercise and training programs.
Big problems and injuries to the Achilles occur most commonly after ignoring small problems and pains. Pain is a warning sign something is wrong. Ignoring the problem often creates a more extensive injury. Prevent small Achilles injuries from becoming large injuries that require more time and treatment to correct by calling Alpha Chiropractic today at (480) 812-1800.
In conclusion, Achilles tendonitis can be successfully treated with hands on treatment. Seek providers who are experienced with Achilles injuries and who utilize therapies such as the Graston Technique for faster results.