Achilles tendonitis is a debilitating, painful inflammation of the Achilles Tendon - a cord-like prominence at the back of the heel rising up toward the calf. Symptoms include an extremely piercing pain, a shooting or burning pain at the back area of the heel. The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle of the leg to the heel bone. The degree of injury ranges from an irritated tendon to a tear or even a complete rupture of the tendon.
Common mitigating factors include:
- Improper training program for athletes
- Wearing footwear that is ill-fitted or badly worn
- improper warm-up (or cool-down) for your activity
- lack of flexibility in the calf muscles
- wearing high heels that can shrink the tendon and become more vulnerable to injury
This injury is problematic among athletes especially runners and professional dancers, as both activities stress the achilles tendon quite heavily.
Achilles Tendonitis is a degenerative condition and should not be left untreated, otherwise a complete rupture may eventually result - a condition that is much more difficult to treat. When treating the achilles tendon, rest the area (meaning do NOT workout this area other than stretching), apply ice for 10-20 minutes at a time for at least 3 times a day. Do this to the injured area for the first day to 3 days. Moist heat may be used after the acute swelling is improved and rest prevents further muscle injury. Ice will reduces initial inflammation and swelling and the moist heat circulates blood through the area to speed the healing process. This can be further helped by the use of ultrasound applications over the affected area, as it reduces swelling quickly and increases blood flow to the area. If the patient gradually starting flexing and mobilizing the area, the muscle would probably heal totally back to normal.
However, this is not what typical person does; they may ice once or twice and rest a bit, but most often just take some Advil or Tylenol and continue to commence their running or dancing. If the strain was minor, their body may be able to heal the muscle fibers normally. Unfortunately, this is not the usual result because the injured muscle is being used instead of rested. Because of the stress on the muscle, their body heals the injured muscle fibers by binding them together with fibrotic adhesions or scar tissue. This is done in an attempt to prevent further damage to the injured area. It is a normal protective response of their body.
To prevent this the patient should apply ultrasound treatment on the area up to three times daily. Ultrasonic energy will naturally "work" the tendon, increasing its flexibility while softening and breaking down scar tissue - which is not something you want in your tendon. Scar tissue is inflexible (non-elastic), and can quickly lead to re-injury of the tendon later down the road.
The trick to any tendon injury is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation and with as much realignment of tendon fibers as possible - something Inferno Wraps and Therapeutic Ultrasound are great at! Even with optimum healing there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. The trick is to make sure you heal this the best you can, that way your chance of re-injury down the road is much lower than average - which is well over 50%.
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