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Physical Therapy for Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is an irritation of the Achilles tendon, a thick band of tissue along the back of your lower leg that connects your calf muscle to your heel. The Achilles tendon helps balance forces in your leg. Tendinopathy refers to any problem with the tendon and can be a long-term or short-term issue. This condition results when the demand placed on the Achilles is greater than its ability to function, which can happen after an injury or repetitive irritation.

The severity of acute injuries is graded based on the amount of damage to the tendon. Grade I injuries are mild strains and disruption of a few fibers, which causes mild to moderate pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. Grade II injuries are moderate strains and disruption of several fibers, which causes moderate pain, swelling, and difficulty walking. Grade III injuries are complete ruptures of the tendon, often characterized by a popping sound, immediate pain, and inability to bear weight. Grade III injuries typically require surgery to repair.

Once your physical therapist has examined your heel, they will be able to determine the severity of your injury and design a treatment plan. It is common for physical therapists to perform movement assessments, which may include watching you walk, squat, step up, and balance on one leg. They may also ask you questions regarding your daily activities, exercise regimens, and footwear to identify possible contributing factors.

Once your treatment plan is determined, your physical therapist will begin implementing strategies for pain management, range of motion, muscular strength, manual therapy, and functional training. The goal of your treatment plan is to eliminate pain, repair your tendon, and prevent the injury from recurring. If you have been experiencing Achilles tendon pain or irritation, give us a call at 973-812-8000.