Can physiotherapy help Achilles Tendinopathy?
The short answer to this is yes! Achilles tendinopathy is a local irritation of the tendon that connects the calf muscles onto the heel bone. It can occur as the result of a specific isolated injury but more often it is considered a type of repetitive strain injury. There are a variety of factors that play a role in this injury, including (but not limited to): length/flexibility of lower extremity muscles, mobility of ankle and foot joints, ability of lower extremity muscles to control movement (particularly decelerating movements as the muscle is lengthening).
The role of physiotherapy in treating Achilles tendinopathy is to treat the pain, manage the inflammation (if it is present), address the factors that are putting abnormal strain on the Achilles tendon, and re-train the body so that the Achilles tendon can function properly during physical activity. The physiotherapist will conduct a thorough physical assessment to come up with an evidence-based treatment plan that may include some of the following interventions:
- Manual therapy (hands on treatment)
- Laser therapy
- Specific exercises
- Education (cause of the problem, goals of treatment, what to do, what to avoid,
- Tips on home management)
- Acupuncture or dry needling
- Shockwave therapy
It is better to address this issue sooner rather than later. If the condition becomes chronic (lasting 3 months or more), it can significantly impact physical activity. A registered physiotherapist can help so that your Achilles tendinopathy does not become your Achilles heel!