A strained tendon is a common and painful injury. Achilles tendon strains are very typical to runners and cyclists, as well as football, tennis and basketball players.
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and used every day for simple activities of daily life. 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. There is usually more inflammation around a re-injured tendon than there was during the first injury. Any tendon strain left untreated can easily become a chronic problem that disrupts your ease of walking and doing any simple activity that you enjoy, something we often take for granted.
A sign of chronic tendonitis (also spelled tendinitis), increased pain in your Achilles tendon with any activity that puts stress on the tendon.
Achilles chronic tendonitis is a degenerative condition in the tendon fibres that attach the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles), to the heel bone (calcaneus) 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 worsen 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. 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 conservative treaments such as Freezie Wrap® cold compression, rest, elevation and Inferno Wrap® Blood Flow Stimulation 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 BFST® 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 home based conservative treatments - the Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap®, Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® and Knee-Flex® Passive Knee Stretch Device for your post-surgery rehabilitation.
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. As well, using your Achilles when it is not warmed up properly (i.e. sprinting or overstretching it before the tissues are warm) can also lead to an acute strain. Repetitive overuse of the calf muscles and the Achilles tendon can cause a strain overtime.
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 muscles of the calf (gastrocnemius and soleus).
- 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.
Strained Achilles Treatments - What You Can Do!
The trick with any tendon injury is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation and with as much realignment of tendon fibres as possible - something the Inferno Wrap® is great at! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt, during ANY exercise. However, if you heal your injury efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower than average.
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.
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
For years, doctors, trainers, and other medical professionals have recommended RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) to treat the pain and swelling of fresh injuries, chronic pain, and after any re-injury.
Although RICE can help to treat these symptoms, ice and freezer gel packs reach temperatures so low they can cause cryoburn, an ice burn on your skin. The problem is, up until now there hasn't been another option to treat painful conditions and injuries, so ice and freezer gel packs have been the only choice.
Fortunately, you no longer have to settle for these ice cold methods that are uncomfortably cold against your skin, provide short term relief, cause ice burns, and numb your skin and underlying tissue beyond feeling so you don't even notice the ice burn until it's too late. The Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® allows you to treat your Achilles tendon in an effective and convenient way. Cold Compression Therapy works by stopping 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 tissue 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 Achilles Tendon, you also limit the amount of healing that needs to occur.
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.
Why is The Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy so important?
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 BBFST® 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.
Questions about the achilles tendon?
Call one of our advisors at no cost or obligation to address any unanswered questions you have about the achilles or any related injury or condition.
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Prevention and Promotion of Lifelong Health
If you want to prevent Achilles Tendonitis or tendon rupture, avoid re-injury, or manage pain and increase circulation for lifelong health benefits, an Ankle/Achilles Freezie Wrap® and Ankle/Achilles Inferno Wrap® will provide exceptional results. Why spend time in pain, off from work, and missing out on your active lifestyle when you can be proactive about your injury and the health of your body? Talk to your doctor about incorporating a regular routine of cooling and heating therapy into your everyday health regimen.
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.
Alternative medications like cortisone injections are NOT advised for any type of Achilles Tendon condition. This is because there is increased risk of rupture of the tendon following a cortisone injection.
"Medical evidence shows that cortisone shots can damage the surrounding tissue, fray the Achilles tendon, and even trigger a rupture. Most side effects are temporary, but skin weakening (atrophy) and lightening of the skin (depigmentation) can be permanent." (reference: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
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