What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles tendinitis is an irritation/inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the back of the heel. It is often a result of overuse and occurs frequently in runners who have altered their training suddenly, either with regard to duration or intensity. This injury is also prevalent in middle-aged people who are active.
Symptoms of an Achilles Tendinitis
People with Achilles tendinitis experience:
- Mild aching on the back of the leg close to the heel after increased activity
- Stiffness in the back of the ankle when you first wake up in the morning, which subsides after mild activity
- In some cases, the area may have swelling, thickening or be warm to the touch
- Tenderness to touch along the tendon in the back of the ankle
- Pain when the tendon is stretched (i.e. when you lift your foot/toes up)
- Problems walking normally
How Physical Therapy can Help
In order to treat Achilles tendinitis effectively, it is important to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity. Once the true cause is identified, a comprehensive treatment program can be initiated to reduce inflammation and improve any faulty lower extremity biomechanics.
Treatment options may include:
- Biomechanical analysis of gait
- Splinting/bracing to alleviate the strain on the tendon
- Soft tissue mobilization/manual therapy to decrease inflammation and promote healing of the tendon
- Strengthening/flexibility and proprioceptive exercises
- Home exercise program
- Modalities for pain and inflammation (i.e. ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, ice)
- Methods to alter faulty mechanics (i.e taping, orthotics)
- Education about lifestyle changes (i.e. proper shoes, activity modification)