A strained tendon is a common and painful injury. Achilles tendon strains are very common to runners and cyclists, as well as football, tennis and basketball players. However, many people will experience a strain to the Achilles tendon at some point in their lives as we use our Achilles tendon everyday for walking and other common activities. 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 cold compression and ultrasound. 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 Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®) 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 cold compression, ultrasound therapy and BFST®. It is also recommended that you allow your ankle to rest and possibly 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, ultrasound therapy and BFST® can be used prior to surgery to minimize tissue damage, resulting in a less invasive surgery.
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.
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.
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.
Strained Achilles Treatments - What You Can Do!
The trick with any Achilles tendon injury is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation and with as much realignment of the tendon fibres as possible - something ultrasound therapy is great at! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured Achilles tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt during exercise and most everyday activities. However, if you heal your injured Achilles tendon efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower.
Allowing your Achilles tendon to rest is always recommended following injury. Avoid all activities that may have caused the injury or irritation and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible. 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.
Therapeutic ultrasound and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®) will treat scar tissue and promote blood flow to heal your Achilles tendon faster and more completely than any other methods available.
Cold Compression Therapy
Doctors recommend using cold compression as soon as possible following an Achilles tendon strain or re-injury to reduce pain and swelling and minimize tissue damage that occurs with soft tissue injuries like Achilles tendon tears.
The Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat your Achilles tendon strain in an effective and convenient way.
Cold Compression Therapy works by interrupting and slowing nerve and cell function in the injured area and reducing swelling that can block blood vessels. This is important because once blood vessels are blocked or damaged, they can no longer carry oxygenated blood through the Achilles tendon and tissue cells begin to break-down. Without cold compression therapy, cellular break-down and tissue damage continues as the cells do not get the oxygen they need to survive. By limiting the amount of damage done to your tendon, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur. This is a very important step to heal your Achilles tendon faster and with less pain!
The deep cooling effect provided by the Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® slows cell metabolism thereby reducing cellular break-down and tissue damage. Furthermore, because the cold wraps serve to numb your nerves, the wraps also reduce pain! Only the Freezie Wrap® gel pack is charged in the fridge. This means the cooling temperature of the gel pack will not cause cold burns, or cryoburn, on your skin like ice or freezie charged gel packs can. You can also treat yourself for longer periods of time so you get lasting pain relief.
Ultrasound Therapy increases tissue elasticity while promoting the flow of blood (filled with vital oxygen and nutrients) to your injured Achilles tendon. This cleans the injured area by getting rid of damaged tissue and reducing the inflammation while opening up the blood vessels in the Achilles tendon to begin healing.
During the healing process, scar tissue builds on the Achilles tendon and can attach the inner layers of the tendon to the surrounding paratenon that it glides through, limiting the flexibility and movement of the Achilles tendon. Fortunately, you can treat your Achilles tendon with therapeutic ultrasound to soften scar tissue and improve the gliding motion and flexibility of your Achilles tendon.
Not only does ultrasound aid in the duration of healing, but it helps to prevent long term complications. Pain, lack of mobility, tendinosis, or a complete Achilles tendon rupture are some of the more common long term complications that can occur when Achilles injuries and tendinitis (tendonitis) go untreated. By treating your Achilles tendon with ultrasound, scar tissue becomes softer and the tissue becomes stronger reducing the risk of chronic problems in the future.
For those who suffer from long term Achilles injuries, ultrasound can help. Ultrasound therapy can help to break up tough and fibrous scar tissue that has built up over time on the Achilles tendon and in the paratenon and restore flexibility in your ankle and foot.
Ultrasound can also be used to administer therapeutic medicines into your Achilles tendon. This is a process known as phonophoresis. Ultrasound therapy with phonophoresis is rapidly becoming more popular than ultrasound therapy alone.
Using the MendMeShop® Lavender Infusion Gel during your ultrasound therapy gives you 2 therapies in 1. You get the benefit of the regenerating sound waves from the ultrasound device itself AND the added bonus of the therapeutic ingredients inside the gel being delivered into the tissue where it is most effective.
Lavender Infusion Ultrasound Gel contains the natural essential oils of Bulgarian lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and menthol and is exclusively available from MendMeShop®. These ingredients reduce inflammation, relieve pain and improve blood circulation to your Achilles tendon. 1 bottle of MendMeShop® Lavender Infusion Ultrasound Gel comes FREE with every MendMeShop® Ultrasound System so you get unbeatable ultrasound therapy for your injured Achilles tendon.
MendMeShop® ultrasound therapy with phonophoresis is safe, convenient, and easy and generally requires between 5 - 10 minutes per treatment. It is based on a form of deep tissue therapy, which is generated through high frequency sound waves (that we can not hear). These waves send vibrations deep into your Achilles tendon and slightly increase the temperature of your soft tissue collagen cells. The waves are delivered through a hand held transducer and conductive gel that are used together in a slow, circular motion on your skin over the injured area.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy
Once the inflammation in your Achilles tendon has been reduced, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in the Achilles tendon and surrounding area is recommended.
Using Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy, or BFST®, will speed your recovery and heal your Achilles tendon more completely preparing it for strengthening exercises. BFST® increases the amount of blood that flows naturally to your ankle to nourish your tendons, ligaments and muscles, improving elasticity and accelerating the healing process.
The Achilles tendon receives a limited blood supply compared to other tendons in the body and this greatly reduces its natural ability to heal itself. By treating your Achilles tendon with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy you can improve your body's blood supply to the Achilles tendon and the subtalar joint in the ankle which will increase your body's natural healing power. In addition, the fresh blood flow whisks away dead cells and toxins that have built up from the damage tissue due to your strain leaving the area clean and able to heal faster. Our Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and unbeatable healing with no side effects.
With these 3 easy therapies you will notice incredible improvement in your Achilles tendon. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Learn More About These SUPERIOR Achilles 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.
Although steroid injections may provide temporary relief of Achilles pain, they should generally be avoided as they weaken the tendon and may lead to a rupture of the tendon. 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.
Always consult your doctor and/or physiotherapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they're right for you and your condition.