Achilles tendonitis can start as nagging pain and end up turning into frequent and sharp discomfort in the back of the ankle. Seeking help from a physical therapist can assist in diminishing the pain and preventing achilles tendonitis from worsening into a diagnosis that is more difficult to heal. Learn more about physical therapy for Achilles Tendonitis below.
Achilles Tendonitis Symptoms
The achilles tendon is a cord like tissue that attaches the calf muscles, or gastrocnemius and soleus, to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis symptoms may begin as an ache in the lower leg or closer to your heel where the achilles tendon inserts. Over time the ache may worsen into a sharper pain. You may start to notice swelling and pain throughout the back of the heel when you walk or run and tightness throughout the calf muscles limiting the amount of motion you have in the ankle. You may feel the pain of achilles tendonitis when walking, running, jumping, squatting, or walking up and down the stairs.
Causes of Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis can be described as irritation, inflammation, and/or pain in the tendon. Achilles tendonitis can be caused by strenuous or repetitive physical activity, taking certain medications such as antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones, wearing certain shoes such as high heels or other non-supportive shoes, bone spurs near the back of the heel irritating the tendon, or due to the structure of your foot. Increase in repetitive physical activity and the structure of your foot are two of the more common reasons why people develop achilles tendonitis.
Jumping sports, such as basketball and volleyball, are two of the most common sports which involve repetitive jumping, can frequently lead to achilles tendonitis. Overloading the tendon when pushing off on one leg, especially when the rest of the lower extremity muscles such as the glutes and quads are weak, can frequently lead to this diagnosis.
Physical Therapy for Achilles Tendonitis Diagnosis
At Specialized Physical Therapy, we will conduct a thorough medical history review focused on your specific symptoms to determine the cause of your symptoms. A physical therapist is trained to identify signs and symptoms consistent with achilles tendonitis. Your physical therapist will also analyze your past medical history, activity level, shoe wear, and standing posture to identify the specific cause of the pain, which aids in creating a treatment protocol.
Determining proper footwear is one of the most important aspects of treating and preventing achilles tendonitis. Use of over the counter (OTC) Superfeet or other orthotics can help align the feet into a neutral position.
Achilles Tendonitis Treatment and Exercises
After a thorough initial evaluation, your therapist will create an individualized physical therapy for achilles tendonitis program to diminish your symptoms as quickly as possible. The program will include stretches, massage, mobilizations, and strengthening exercises specific to what you want to return to doing, from walking to playing basketball. The goal of our physical therapy for Achilles Tendonitis treatment will be to first identify why the pain started, to reduce swelling and pain, to regain mobility, and to return you to your prior level of function. Contact us today if you want to learn more about physical therapy for achilles tendon pain.