Heel pain? It may be Achilles tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis refers to inflammation of the calf tendon as it attaches to the heel bone. This condition is one of the most common overuse injuries that occurs among runners and people who have foot abnormalities such as flat feet and high arches. In many instances, it is frequent on middle-aged men and people who have suddenly increased their level of walking and running activity. It is also frequent to people who play sports such as basketball, tennis and football while wearing improper or worn-out footwear.
The condition occurs when the Achilles tendon is placed on extreme tissue stress, which later causes inflammatory changes in the tissue. Complication arises when inflammatory process is not addressed appropriately because the inflammation can lead to a tear that later on requires surgery. The tendinous portion of the calf muscle has poor blood supply and requires surgery to repair it if it’s completely torn.
Physical therapy is an essential part in the treatment of Achilles tendonitis. Physical therapy can address patient’s pain and inflammation after injury through modalities. Most commonly used therapeutic modalities include low level laser, iontophoresis and thermal modalities. Furthermore, the use of heel lifts during acute phase of injury can significantly reduce muscular activity that will allow healing to occur.
Physical therapists can also perform manual therapy, techniques such as soft tissue mobilization, cross friction and myofascial release techniques to calf muscle and tendon to improve tissue blood supply, muscle contraction and lengthening. A series of eccentric program such as calf-lowering exercises is also found to be beneficial in improving function and reducing pain. Other techniques are being used such as stretching and strengthening exercises to correct flexibility and strength after pain and inflammation has subsided.
Last, but not least, patients are also evaluated and provided education on importance of proper footwear and orthotics during walking or running activities to prevent future re-occurrence of injury.
About the Author
Aldrin De Peralta has 18 years of professional experience in the field of physical therapy and specializes in myofascial pain and orthopedic conditions. He is a certified myofascial trigger point therapist and is SFMA certified. De Peralta uses an eclectic approach and evidence-based treatment in the management of pain, restoring function and reaching patient's highest of level independence.