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Learn About Treatments For Achilles Tendon Injury

Updated: Oct 1, 2022



You must have heard about the Achilles tendon injury, right?


This tendon is located at the back of the leg, between the calf and heel region, being a very sensitive structure that can end up suffering injuries, especially if you are a someone who does physical activities.


For you to know the types of injuries that can affect the Achilles tendon and what types of treatments can be done, check out the information we brought below:


How do Achilles tendon injuries happen?


The Achilles tendon, is a structure in our body that, while being strong, is also very sensitive.


The structure is formed by a fibrous tissue that makes the connection between the calf muscle and heel. When these muscles are flexed, the tendon pulls the heel so that we can walk, stand or run, for example.


The injuries that usually happen in the Achilles tendon are more common in athletes or people who practice physical activities, but do not stretch or strengthen the muscles properly, contributing to the injuries.


Main types of Achilles tendon injuries


When we talk about rupture of the Achilles tendon it means a tear in this structure, and this is a type of injury. There are others injuries that can also affect the place, check them out below:


Achilles Tendinitis


This injury is very common and happens when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed, leading to local pain and stiffness in the heel.


The causes of this type of injury can be repetitive stress, heel spurs or when the muscles are underdeveloped.


Achilles Tendinosis


This type of Achilles tendon injury consists of thickening of the structure, where no inflammation can be seen apparently, and is caused by repetitive use.


From this type of injury, other problems can happen in the region.


Bursitis


The bursa is a very small bag of fluid that is located between the bone and the tendon, protecting it from friction during the movements we make. Due to some trauma, this small bag can end up inflaming, leading to injury.


Main symptoms of Achilles tendon injury


The most common symptoms that patients complain of when having an Achilles tendon injury are sharp pain in the region, local inflammation with swelling or redness, popping sound as soon as the structure is ruptured, being unable to stand or walk.


What factors can lead to these injuries?


There are some factors that can end up favouring Achilles tendon injuries, such as the use of medication to control cholesterol, the use of some types of antibiotics and the use of corticosteroid injections and the lack of stretching when practicing physical activities.


How to prevent these injuries?

The best way to prevent Achilles tendon injury is through exercises to strengthen the calf muscles, where the exercises consist of repeating movements of standing on tiptoe and back.


Consequences of injury


As it is a very important structure for our body and essential for us to be able to stand, run, walk or jump, all injuries can end up having some consequences, especially pain when walking. The consequences are the increased difficulty of performing common everyday tasks, such as working, walking, going to the gym, taking the children to school or doing some physical activity.


What are the treatments for Achilles tendon injuries?


In the vast majority of times when patients are affected by an Achilles tendon rupture, it is common for them to go for surgery. In some simpler cases, the ankle is immobilized and brings positive results.


Surgeries are currently very advanced, where techniques are updated and minimally invasive to the body. The incisions are small and this avoids many complications. After this procedure, the patient's ankle needs to be protected, and a cast is worn for an average of two weeks. After these two weeks, the patient starts using a boot to immobilize the site, in addition to an insole to elevate the heel. At this stage, rehabilitation is carried out so that the foot can progressively touch the ground again. After a month using the boot, the patient can remove the insoles, one a week, gradually until he is able to wear sneakers again. It is recommended that a 2 cm silicone insole be used to elevate the heel.


In order for the recovery of the Achilles tendon injury to be complete, the patient must start Physiotherapy sessions after the surgery.


For other types of Achilles Tendon injuries Focal Shockwave Therapy is the class A indication treatment. Shockwave therapy uses acoustic waves delivered directly to the site of the injury, in this case, the Achilles tendon, to relieve pain and improve blood flow, which accelerates healing.


Shockwave Therapy works by letting soundwaves penetrate the skin, similar to an ultrasound. A handheld device is placed on the skin (which is lubricated with a type of gel for conduction) and the low-energy acoustic waves induce microtrauma. The trauma created by the acoustic waves stimulates the body’s healing response. The formation of blood vessels for increased blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to the area are all processes of healing and repair, which help relieve pain and inflammation. It usually takes several sessions, spaced one week apart, to get the best results from this treatment.


When combined with physical therapy exercises and other modalities, shockwave therapy is very effective in treating patients with Achilles tendonitis. When conservative methods have failed, the use of shockwave therapy along with conservative methods has improved clinical outcomes in patients with Achilles tendonitis. It can even help patients avoid surgery. Shockwave therapy not only works on patients with Achilles tendonitis but also tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis, and there is evidence of its effectiveness in multiple high-quality randomized clinical trials.


When the injury is not treated, what can it generate?


There are some problems that the untreated Achilles tendon rupture can generate. Ideally, the patient should look for an emergency care immediately after feeling that the tendon has been injured, requesting care by an orthopedic doctor.


These procedures related to the treatment of Achilles tendon injuries must be performed within 7 days after the rupture. The lack of treatment can cause several problems for the patient, such as difficulty walking, physical activities, decreased impulsion and strength in the region.


In addition, the muscle and tendon can end up with an accumulation of fibrosis, impairing the elasticity and resistance of the structure, also generating future problems. Achilles tendon injury needs to be treated correctly once the diagnosis is made. For this, look for a specialist doctor to receive and follow all the recommendations made.


Treatment must be strictly followed. The ideal is to look for a physiotherapist so that the recovery is complete. The Physiotherapist has the knowledge to continue the treatment and strengthen the region after surgery.


Schedule a consultation and ask all your questions!



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