Strained Achilles Tendon
A strained tendon is a common injury that is quite debilitating as we use our Achilles tendon everyday for walking and other common activities. Achilles tendon strains are very common to runners and cyclists, as well as football, tennis and basketball players. Quite a large number of people will experience a strain to their Achilles tendon at some point in their lives. In fact, due to the frequent demands on our Achilles tendons, on average, our Achilles tendons function with 20% damage at all times and are constantly going through the tissue repair process.
If you have a strained Achilles tendon, it is very important to make sure it heals properly to decrease the chance of re-injuring the tendon. Re-injury of a strained or stressed tendon occurs more easily than the initial injury and there is usually more inflammation around a re-injured tendon than there was during the first injury. An Achilles strain left untreated can easily become a chronic problem that disrupts your ease of walking and participation in activities that you enjoy, something we often take for granted.
A strain that goes left untreated can cause more pain in the tendon and may be a sign of chronic tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis). Achilles chronic tendonitis is a degenerative condition in the tendon fibres that attach the calf muscles, called the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, to the calcaneus (heel bone) at the back of the subtalar joint (also known as the talocalcaneal joint) in the ankle. Sufferers generally complain of a severe, burning pain in the area, which gradually worsens and is exacerbated by stress on the joint.
Grades of Tendon Strains
A tendon or muscle can be strained to varying degrees depending on the force that caused the strain and the strength of the tendon or muscle tissue. There are 3 difference grades of tendon strains and the grade is determined by the severity of the tissue damage.
Grade 1 - Mild Strain
A grade 1 strain is the least serious of Achilles tendon strains. With a grade 1 strain there is some stretching or minor tearing of the Achilles tendon tissue. These injuries usually heal quickly if treated properly with a Cold Compress or Ice Pack. Once the stretching and tearing has healed, it is important to improve the health of the tendon and restore the elasticity to the Achilles tendon with Soft Tissue Repair Therapy to reduce the risk of restraining it again.
Grade 2 - Moderate Strain
A grade 2 strain occurs when a tendon or muscle is partially torn but still intact. If you have a grade 2 strain, strength in the Achilles tendon and gastrocnemius and soleus muscles is noticeably reduced. Approximately 75% of grade 2 tears occur in sports that involve sprinting or repetitive jumping. This grade of strain can also be effectively treated with conservative treatments such as cold compression, rest, elevation and a T•Shellz Wrap® utilitizing Soft Tissue Repair Therapy. It may also be recommended that you wear a brace to immobilize the ankle and allow the Achilles tendon tear to heal.
Grade 3 - Rupture or Severe Strain
When the Achilles tendon is completely torn (ruptured) it is considered a grade 3 tear. The stability of the ankle is greatly reduced and pain is evident. Treatment of a complete Achilles tendon tear requires surgery to rejoin the Achilles tendon to the calcaneus (heel bone) or back together at the point of the tear on the tendon. Cold compression and STR Therapy using the T•Shellz Wrap® can be used prior to surgery to minimize tissue damage and swelling induced pain, resulting in a less invasive surgery. Once your surgery is complete, talk with your surgeon about incorporating our Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® for your post-surgery rehabilitation.
In addition, using these therapies following surgery will help to repair and strengthen the Achilles tendon faster and more completely. With these therapies you will have less scar tissue formation on your Achilles tendon leaving it more elastic and less painful than if it was left to heal on its own.
Achilles Strain Symptoms
If you have suffered an Achilles tendon strain you may be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Pain in your Achilles tendon when you flex or extend your foot.
- Muscle spasm in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calf.
- Pain, tenderness, and a crackling noise may occur when the Achilles tendon is examined by touch (palpated).
- Failure of the foot flexing when squeezing the calf muscles (The Thompson Test).
- Noticeable loss of strength in a grade 2 or 3 Achilles tendon strain.
Achilles Strain Causes
A strain in the Achilles tendon is caused by excessive twisting and turning, a sudden traumatic injury, improper training or overuse during a prolonged period of time.
Whether you are a runner/athlete, painting on a ladder, or walking on ice, an unfortunate twist and awkward fall can cause you to strain your Achilles tendon if it is twisted abnormally. As well, using your Achilles when it is not warmed up properly (i.e. sprinting or overstretching it before the fibres are warm) can also lead to an acute strain. Repetitive overuse of the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon can cause a strain overtime.
Home Therapy for a Strained Achilles
If you have an achilles tendon injury, rest is recommended, however, some careful movement is required to prevent the joint from freezing and losing range of motion. See your doctor or physical therapist for stretches that will not cause further injury to your achilles. Avoid activities that cause pain or may have caused the injury and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible.
The trick with any Achilles tendon injury is getting your achilles back in the best possible condition you can quickly. This means getting the tendon to heal quick to minimize scar tissue growth - something our T•Shellz Wraps® are designed for! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause your Achilles tendon to hurt during regular movement and exercise. However, if you heal your injury efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower than average.
The Achilles tendon is a difficult tendon to rest completely as it is an essential tendon for walking and daily activities. Fortunately, there are healing tools that can help treat your Achilles tendon and speed up the healing process so you can get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury. The use of a T•Shellz Wrap® (Soft Tissue Therapy) increases elasticity of soft tissue while promoting blood flow (vasodilation) at the treatment site via deep heat.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief from the pain of an achilles injury they should generally be undertaken with caution as they weaken the tendon and may lead to a complete rupture. If you do opt for an injection, doctors usually recommend that you do not participate in strenuous activities for several weeks to reduce the risk of a rupture.
Conservative Treatment Step 1: Reduce The Initial Inflammation
Inflammation is the body's natural response to an immediate achilles injury and is a normal part of the healing process - helping to reduce tissue infection in the early stages of injury. Swelling, pain, heat sensation, redness, and loss of function are the main symptoms experienced.
The combination of rest, topical pain relief cream and minor amounts of cold therapy is the gold standard in medicine for minimizing tissue damage and reducing inflammation after injury or activity. It serves as a critical bridge into the next phase of the healing process.
Conservative Treatment Step 2: Enhance Blood Flow to the Injured Soft Tissue
Once the inflammation in your Achilles tendon has been reduced, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in the Achilles tendon and surrounding area is recommended.
It is through the blood that the body carries nutrients, oxygen, and antibodies that injured tissue needs to repair and rebuild. Research shows that electromagnetic energy is a very effective treatment for stimulating blood flow to dense tissues such as tendons, ligaments, muscles, and even vascular portions of cartilage. This dramatically improves the healing process.
Electromagnetic energy is an energy waveform that is absorbed by dense tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) and not absorbed much by less dense tissue (fat cells, skin). Absorption of this energy translates to thermal heat, and the body increases blood flow to the area as a response to this heat. This increased blood flow speeds up the healing process, clearing the area of toxins and excess fluid build up, thereby reducing inflammation. More details on this are found further down the page.
Electromagnetic Energy is recognized in scientific circles as a legitimate treatment for many forms of muscle and soft tissue injuries.
Conservative Treatment Step 3: Recognize That Healing is a Process
With dedication, the right tools, and the right information - you will achieve your goal of a sustainable recovery. A combination approach of cold therapy, deep heat treatments, and functional movements will make it happen much more quickly. Healing takes a comprehensive approach and will differ from person to person.
If you have questions, we welcome you to call our office toll-free at 1-866-237-9608 (Continental US), or Internationally at +1-705-532-1671.
The Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® - Heal Your Achilles For The Long Term
The best option we came across in our research to accomplish faster healing of soft tissue injuries in the achilles is the AchillesT•Shellz Wrap®. Use of this device results in a significant increase in blood flow to the injured tissues located deeper within the body - all in a non-invasive manner.
Have you seen what happens when you add water to a flower wilted from drought? In essence, your injured achilles is much like a "wilted" flower; your body wants to heal its injury, but needs lots of nutrients to do it. Blood brings new life to your cells by delivering healing nutrients and oxygen that are vital to your tissue. In addition, the blood carries away toxins and cellular waste cleaning the area and healing it faster. Without a good supply of blood, your achilles simply won't heal properly.
Using a T•Shellz Wrap® will not expose you to the risk of causing further harm to soft tissue like you can when using rigorous exercise. The Achilles T•Shellz Wrap® accomplishes the goal of enhanced blood flow without the need for intensive exercise and as such reduces your risk of re-injury.
Learn More About Achilles Injuries & Treatments
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your Achilles tendon until your pain and inflammation settle.
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