Achilles Tendinopathy Diagnosis
Diagnosing an Achilles Tendon Injury
A physical exam or with diagnostic tests. To help your doctor achieve a proper diagnosis, he/she will begin with a medical history about you, your current condition and symptoms, the intensity of your pain, the duration of your symptoms and the limitations you are experiencing. Details about what causing the problem, when it started, and whether or not you have ever had treatments (for this or a similar condition in the past) are very helpful in assessing your injury.
Your doctor will visually assess and palpate (feel) the bones and soft tissue in and around both of your Achilles tendons to evaluate symmetry and spot any differences. Such as inflammation, swelling, bone deformity, scar tissue build up, and a weakened tendon. He/she will press on the injured tendon to test for tenderness, tough nodes of scar tissue, and jelly-like sections on the tendon. He/she will probably ask you to push down with the ball of your foot and toes (plantarflexing) to evaluate the flexibility, alignment, range of motion and pain level.
Common Diagnostic Tests
Diagnostic testing to obtain more detailed information, and assess the amount and/or type of damage done to your Achilles tendon. There are a variety of different tests available to help them analyze the situation; however the recommendation will be dependent on your injury.
The Thompson Test is a common physical exam that doctors use to determine if an Achilles tendon has ruptured.
This test involves the patient lying face down on the exam table with knees at a 90 degree angle. The doctor squeezes the calf muscles of the injured leg. If the foot flexes downward (like trying to point your toes) the Achilles tendon is not torn. If the Achilles tendon is torn, the foot does not move.
X-rays don't show much relative to tendons and other soft tissue but it will provide an image of the overall bone structure of your ankle. It is helpful in identifying bone spurs, calcifications within the tendon, fractures or degeneration of the heel bone.
CAT or CT scans can be used to provide a 3-dimensional assessment of the bones and soft tissues in and around your Achilles tendon and may be used to identify a tendon tear.
MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) will provide more detailed information and will help to evaluate the Achilles tendon damage. An MRI can diagnose tendinosis, tissue damage and tears, and/or other associated conditions.
The type of test recommended will depend on your symptoms and the opinion of your medical professional.
Treating an Achilles Tendon Injury
Your doctor will give advice to use conservative treatments before even suggesting surgery. It is generally understood by doctors and surgeons, that surgery will introduce more scar tissue into the any already damaged tissue. This added scar tissue will be problematic, requiring more physical therapy and conservative treatment options post-surgery. If not dealt with properly, your tendonitis injury could end up in worse condition than before the surgery! This is why surgery is only performed as a last resort.
Most doctors, surgeons and orthopedic specialists will recommend conservative treatment methods for Achilles Tendon injuries before even considering surgery. Some conservative treatment methods recommended include:
- Rest - This is important for initial healing of your Achilles Tendon is resting your ankle.This can be difficult when you have to carry on with daily activities, but resting and elevating your foot whenever you can is recommended. During your recovery you will probably have to modify or avoid the activities that put stress on your Achilles tendon until your pain and inflammation settles.
- Avoid Activities that Caused Your Injury - While resting your injury it's also important to avoid all activities that may have caused your tissue damage (especially any repetitive movement). Continuing on with regular activities will not only make your injury worse.
- Apply Effective Cold Compression
Effective Cold Compression = Treatment with a Freezie Wrap® Immediate cold (using a Freezie Wrap®) will help you to manage pain while getting rid of the pain and inflammation. Reducing inflammation can also relieve some of the pressure that's being placed on your tissue(s) and stop your injury from getting worse.
- Use Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ - After any inflammation and/or swelling has been reduced, you can use your own blood flow to maximize healing of damaged tissue and maintain healthy blood flow to your tissue. This also boost overall long-term healing of this injury.
These easy to use and safe effective products, such as Cold Compression and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy will effectively treat Achilles tendonitis, bursitis, tendon strain, and post-operative recovery. Such therapies will reduce your pain and heal your Achilles faster while treating the scar tissue that builds up on your Achilles tendon during the healing process. This is important because scar tissue leaves your Achilles tendon inflexible and at greater risk of re-injuty. To find out more about these and other easy-to-use therapies click here.