The Achilles tendon is the strong fibrous band of connective tissue that rises from the heel bone and attaches into the calf muscles. It is the thickest tendon in the body and due to its high weight-bearing nature is prone to injury. Overuse of the calf muscles can lead to overloading of the Achilles tendon, leading to inflammation and degeneration causing pain, known as a tendinopathy. If you suffer from Achilles tendinopathy (previously known as tendonitis), the tendon may feel thicker and more swollen than normal. Although it may feel pain-free when performing exercise or walking, it is usually painful later once you have stopped the activity. If the injury worsens then the pain may come on during activity as well as after. Less commonly, the Achilles tendon can also be injured by overstretching in a single incident, causing a tear or rupture. It may be weaker and significantly painful after this kind of injury.
The latest treatment for Achilles tendon injuries is Radial Shockwave Therapy. This is not readily available in many places in the UK but at here at Mike Varney Physiotherapy we use on all tendon injuries as it is so effective. Shockwave works by passing electro-pneumatic mechanical soundwaves from a handheld device into the Achilles. This very slightly disrupts the tendon fibres and stimulates the release of both painkilling and healing chemicals down to affected area, accelerating the healing process. This is used alongside other treatments such as manual mobilisations, deep tissue massage of the calf muscles, ultrasound and acupuncture. Strapping of the Achilles tendon using Kinesio tape has also been shown to very effective to offload it in order to let it heal faster. Your physio will also provide you with a home exercise plan for you to complete between sessions involving stretching and strengthening for the tendon. We normally recommend weekly treatments for Achilles tendon injuries, however these are normally spaced out as the injury improves. If you have pain in the Achilles tendon, give us a call on 01279414959 to book an appointment.