Achilles tendon injuries or Tendinopathies are typically not related to a specific incident or injury, but instead are a result of overloading or overusing the tendon over a period of time. Your achilles tendon basically is complaining because it can’t cope with the physical demands that are being placed upon it!
Many people suffer from Achilles Tendinopathies. Symptoms can include waking up with stiffness in your achilles tendon accompanied by difficulty walking downstairs. It often eases with light activity or movement, but gets worse again after high level activity, such as a long walk, running or climbing lots of stairs. Often after sitting or resting it stiffens up again and the pain returns.
Like with Plantar Fasciitis, people who suffer with Achilles Tendinopathies experience the ‘yo-yoing’ of pain, rest, pain, rest! Before you know it, you’ve limited your activities and sports to avoid the pain. And just like Plantar Fasciitis, identifying the underlying cause is crucial. It could be flattened arches, poor training habits in running, footwear, lack of flexibility in other muscles, weak areas – many issues (or a combination of issues) can lead to Achilles Tendinopathy.
Mild cases can resolve with rest, but this is rare. Because most people take the ‘wait and see’ approach, Achilles Tendinopathy can be a long standing (chronic) condition, before you seek expert help. If this is the case or if you’ve tried other treatments with no success, SWT can be a very effective treatment to stop your pain and start your recovery.
At goPhysio, we’d always take an approach where alongside tackling the pain, we’d also analyse and address what’s caused your Achilles Tendinopathy in the first place. Without doing this, you risk getting it again. So, with our expert guidance and holistic care, we give you the best possible chance of long term, recovery.
Read more about achilles tendon injuries here.
There are many treatment options when it comes to resolving achilles tendinopathies. These include:
- A wait & see approach (can just leave it and hope it will get better in time, which many will do within 8 – 12 months, it just depends whether you can live with it).
- Physiotherapy – including strengthening exercises, stretches, manual treatment techniques and taping.
- Acupuncture (which many Physio’s will do as part of their treatment).
- Activity modification – a crucial part of successful treatment.
- Medication, including pain killers and anti-inflammatories.
These forms of treatment can all be very effective for a mild or fairly recent onset of achilles tendinopathies. .
More invasive treatment options for more long standing or severe cases can include:
- Corticio-steroid injection.
Shockwave Therapy for Achilles Tendinopathies
However, steroid injections and surgery really are a last resort, there is no guarantee of success with either of these treatment options. A very worthwhile alternative for more severe, long-standing cases that may have failed to get better with other treatments is Shockwave Therapy.
With Shockwave Therapy, ‘shock waves’ are passed through the skin to the affected area using a special device. It’s a non-invasive and relatively pain-free treatment. The medical name for this procedure is ‘extracorporeal shockwave therapy for refractory tennis elbow’. ‘Extracorporeal’ means outside the body and ‘refractory’ means that the condition does not respond to conventional treatments. The ‘shock waves’ are inaudible, high-energy sound waves. How many sessions you will need depends on the severity of your pain and how long you’ve had the problem for. However, 4 – 6 are normally recommend.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) states that shockwave therapy is safe, although it can cause minor side effects, including bruising and reddening of skin in the area being treated.
Research shows that shockwave therapy can help improve the pain of achilles tendinopathies in some cases. However, it may not work in all cases, and further research is needed.
If you’ve been suffering with achilles tendinopathy and want help, get in touch. You can have a free no obligation phone call to see whether it may help you.
Alternatively, book straight in to see one of our Physiotherapists. They will carry out a full assessment of your elbow and put together a recovery plan for you. If they think shockwave treatment is going to help you, they can get started straight away. Unlike many clinics. we include shockwave therapy in the cost of your appointments, with no additional charges.