Achilles Tendonitis Treatment: What Is Shockwave Therapy?

April 13, 2021
Achilles Tendonitis Treatment: What Is Shockwave Therapy?

Achilles tendonitis is a common overuse injury affecting the Achilles tendon. This tendon is a tough band of tissue at the back of the lower leg that stretches from the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body and it springs into action anytime you jump, walk, run, climb stairs or stand on your toes. 

 

Generally speaking, the Achilles tendon can withstand a great deal of stress. However, if the tendon is subjected to repetitive or intense strain, tendonitis can occur. Achilles tendonitis is an acute inflammatory injury that can occur without warning and cause significant impairment. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options for patients with this condition. 

Causes and Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis can affect anyone, though the injury is most common in runners and other athletes whose sports activities suddenly increase in intensity or duration. Several other factors can increase a person’s risk of developing Achilles tendonitis, including the following:

  • Age: Vulnerability increases with age
  • Sex: Achilles tendonitis affects more men than women
  • Medical conditions: Some conditions, such as high blood pressure or psoriasis, increase risk 
  • Training choices: Some choices increase risk, such as running in worn shoes or on hilly terrain
  • Physical problems: Problems such as flat feet increase risk
  • Medications: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics have been linked to Achilles tendonitis

 

Achilles tendonitis occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. At its earliest stages, Achilles tendonitis can present as a mild aching pain located above the heel or in the back of the leg. Prolonged running, climbing, or other intense activity may result in more severe Achilles-related pain, possibly accompanied by tenderness or stiffness in the affected area. If you experience this type of pain and the pain worsens or persists, call your healthcare provider to discuss the proper course of treatment.

Treatments for Achilles Tendonitis

Without proper treatment, painful Achilles tendonitis can recur, weakening the tendon over time, which can lead to a more serious tear or rupture of the Achilles tendon. This painful injury usually requires surgery to repair. Effectively treating Achilles tendonitis requires an individualized approach that considers the severity of the injury and the patient’s level of pain. 

 

At Diablo Foot & Ankle, our doctors specialize in anon-invasive treatment method called extracorporeal shockwave therapy, which uses pressure waves to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including Achilles tendonitis. How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy is an outpatient procedure conducted using anon-invasive probe that is applied to the skin around the target area such as the Achilles tendon. An electrical charge produces energy waves, or “shockwaves,” that trigger increased blood flow to the affected tissues and stimulate the body’s natural healing process. Some patients who undergo shockwave therapy report immediate pain relief, though it may take up to four weeks for pain relief to occur.

 

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy

Shockwave therapy is an advanced, highly-effective treatment option that may be appropriate for patients experiencing chronic tendon problems, such as Achilles tendonitis. The procedure offers patients with this type of injury a lower-cost, less-invasive treatment alternative with a shorter recovery time. Following shockwave therapy, patients are typically advised to reduce their level of physical activity for one to two weeks, at which point they may be able to return to a pain-free life. In some cases, shockwave therapy can help individuals with Achilles tendonitis avoid surgery.

 

If you are considering shockwave therapy as a treatment for Achilles tendonitis, contact Diablo Foot & Ankle today to learn more about the outpatient procedure and the benefits it may offer in reducing your Achilles tendon pain.