Getting Active Again After an Achilles Tendon Injury

We tend to take for granted the things we do every day, like walking, running, and jumping — until we can’t do them anymore because of an injury. If you’ve injured your Achilles tendon, you know exactly what this is like. One day, you’re going about your business carefree and pain-free, the next, you’re laid up on the couch and dreading the inevitable walk across the room.

Depending on the nature of your injury, you may be in minor discomfort or excruciating pain. Either way, it’s important to know how to approach treatment and recovery so you’ll have the best chance at full, pain-free function. Our expert team here at Michfoot Surgeons PC specializes in diagnosing the extent of your Achilles injury. We’ll help you get back on your feet with full functionality as soon as possible. 

Achilles tendonitis

More often than not, Achilles tendonitis happens when you overuse or overwork your tendon. It’s common in athletes, those who embark on a new exercise regimen, and people who wear high heeled shoes or shoes with inadequate support for a long time.  

With mild cases of Achilles tendonitis, you may notice tightness or stiffness, or even some minor discomfort in the area. You might even have a little less flexibility. This is (relatively) good news. You’ll likely only need mild treatments to get up and moving again. It’s still best to come in and see us, just to rule out the possibility of more extensive damage. 

Generally, the treatment for Achilles tendonitis takes a conservative approach. Here are some ways to heal your injury: 

At-home Achilles tendonitis care

It's important to move quickly when you first notice signs of Achilles tendonitis. We recommend using the RICE method:

In addition, you can use anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and ease your pain. 

Extra support

Sometimes all you need is a little extra support. Prescription orthotics that fit inside your shoes can help stabilize your foot and allow your tendon to heal.

If these don’t do the trick, we may add a special walking boot to your treatment plan to take the stress off your tendon and keep your heel from moving too much. 

Physical therapy

If your Achilles tendon injury requires a more assertive approach, you might want to try physical therapy. With targeted stretches and exercises to facilitate strength and flexibility, physical therapy can be one of the best tools in your treatment toolbox. With regular appointments, physical therapy can:

If you have a mild case of Achilles tendonitis, the physical therapy process may only take two to four weeks. But if yours is more severe, it might take about six months before you notice improvement.

Platelet-rich plasma

To heal your heel from the inside out, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been shown to accelerate the process. If you’re a good candidate, our team will draw blood from your arm, send it through a centrifuge to clean it and isolate the platelets and growth factors. Then, our doctor will inject these platelets into your injured Achilles tendon. 

Your own blood is being used, so there's little to no chance of infection or rejection. Not to mention, the injection prompts your body’s own healing processes to kick into high gear.

MLS laser therapy

Another treatment option is multiwave locked system (MLS) laser therapy. This patented, FDA-cleared treatment uses low-level light waves to reduce inflammation and prompt the production of collagen. The less swelling and more collagen you have, the quicker you’ll recover from your Achilles tendon injury and get back to normal.

Achilles rupture

While Achilles tendonitis can be painful, it’s minor compared to an Achilles rupture, where the tendon has torn partially or completely. In this case, we may recommend surgery to repair it. While your surgery may only take about an hour, your recovery will take considerable time and effort. 

Everyone is different, but the progression is the same for all. The key is to gradually move your foot into a flexed position over a period of four weeks while focusing on strengthening your core and leg muscles. 

Physical therapy is an important part of your rehab and allows you to eventually put weight on your foot under medical supervision. Reinjury during rehab can set you back, so you’ll want to make sure you’re under the care of a professional. 

After a month or two, you may be able to do some light activities, including swimming. And by four to six months, you should be almost fully active again.

If you’ve injured your Achilles tendon, it can sideline you for quite some time. Get the pain relief and proper treatment you need to get active again soon. Contact us today to request an appointment!

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