The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body and is very vulnerable to injury, probably because of its limited blood supply and the variety of forces to which it is subjected during activity. If treatment and rest is not implemented in the early stages of tendon injury and pain, known as Achilles Tendonitis, and chronic overload of the tendon continues, the tendon eventually develops microscopic tears in it. This is known as Achilles tendinosis and because of the poor blood supply to the tendon, the ability to heal these microscopic tears is limited and tearing of the tendon continues. Enlargement of the tendon, weakness and scar tissue formation results, which causes further pain and potential for tendon rupture
Undue strain to the Achilles tendon results in over 230,000 Achilles tendon injuries per year in the U.S. alone. The undue strain could be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- tightness or weakness of the leg, knee, hip, or back muscles
- poor lower extremity movement patterns
- poor ankle mobility
- high or low arches, poor foot biomechanics
- uneven leg lengths
- alternating between high (2”) heels and exercise shoes
- sudden (rather than gradual) increases in training, such as running faster, further, or up steeper hills.
Treatment focuses on addressing any factors which could be contributing to undue strain, such as providing customized orthotics to correct poor foot biomechanics, a very carefully designed program of stretching and strengthening, and modalities to encourage increased blood supply to the tendon, such as laser therapy and soft tissue mobilization.
For more information on Achilles tendinosis or treatment options for Achilles tendon pain, please contact Ascent Physical Therapy at 970.949.9988 in Avon, CO or 970.328.5230 in Eagle, CO.