achilles heel pain

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Dr. Timothy Young Discusses Shockwave Therapy for Achilles Tendonitis: A Promising Treatment Option

Introduction

Achilles tendonitis is a common and painful condition that affects the Achilles tendon, the thick cord that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. This condition often results from overuse or repetitive stress, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the ankle. While conservative treatments like rest, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications can help manage Achilles tendonitis, some cases may require more advanced interventions. Shockwave therapy is one of the newer treatment options for resistant Achilles tendonitis.

In this blog post, I will discuss what shockwave therapy is, how it works, its benefits, and its effectiveness in treating Achilles tendonitis.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy, also known as extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT), is a non-invasive medical procedure that uses high-energy acoustic waves to stimulate healing and tissue repair. Originally developed to break down kidney stones, this technology has found its place in sports medicine, offering a promising alternative for various musculoskeletal conditions, including Achilles tendonitis.

How Does Shockwave Therapy Work?

Shockwave therapy works by delivering high-energy sound waves to the affected area, creating microtrauma within the damaged tendon. This microtrauma triggers the body's natural healing response, increasing blood flow, promoting collagen production, and stimulating tissue regeneration. In the case of Achilles tendonitis, shockwave therapy targets the degenerated tissue and encourages the formation of healthy tendon fibers.

Benefits of Shockwave Therapy for Achilles Tendonitis

1. Non-Invasive: Shockwave therapy is a non-surgical and non-invasive treatment option, making it suitable for patients who want to avoid surgery or those who have not responded well to conservative treatments.

2. Reduced Pain: Many patients experience a significant reduction in pain after shockwave therapy, which can improve their overall quality of life and enable them to return to their normal activities.

3. Accelerated Healing: Shockwave therapy accelerates the natural healing process by promoting tissue repair and regeneration, allowing patients to recover faster.

4. Minimal Side Effects: Compared to surgery, shockwave therapy carries fewer risks and side effects. It generally has a much shorter recovery time and does not require a lengthy rehabilitation period.

Effectiveness of Shockwave Therapy

Numerous studies and clinical trials have examined the effectiveness of shockwave therapy for Achilles tendonitis, and the results have been promising. It is important to note that individual responses to the treatment may vary, and not all patients will experience the same level of relief.

In a typical treatment plan, patients receive multiple shockwave sessions over several weeks (typically 1X/week for 5 weeks). Each session lasts around 15-20 minutes, and most patients report improvement in pain and function after completing the recommended treatment course.

It's essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific condition and determine if shockwave therapy is a suitable option for you.

Conclusion

Achilles tendonitis can be a debilitating condition that hinders daily activities and sports performance. While traditional treatments have their merits, shockwave therapy offers a promising alternative for those who seek non-invasive and effective solutions.

Before considering shockwave therapy, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider who can assess your condition, discuss treatment options, and tailor a plan that best suits your needs. With the potential to reduce pain, accelerate healing, and improve overall quality of life, shockwave therapy may be the answer for many individuals suffering from Achilles tendonitis

If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, give us a call today at 425-391-8666 or make an appointment online.
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Dr. Timothy Young
, a Board-Certified Foot Surgeon Discusses Achilles Tendon Problems in Children
We see a lot of pediatric sports related injuries and conditions at our clinic. Achilles tendon problems are one of the common problems. This is often thought of as a problem for adults. The children that come in with these problems are often adolescent athletes. There are several variations of Achilles problems. Classically Achilles tendon problems involve the narrow part of the tendon above the heel where you can feel the tendon itself and this is called the watershed region. There are also problems where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone.  And this also can also affect the growth plate of the heel bone (calcaneus) which is a common problem for children called Severs disease or calcaneal apophysitis.

There can be overlap between Severs Disease (growth plate irritation) and irritation of the Achilles tendon at the insertion, because there is such close proximity to both. In many cases treatment for calcaneal apophysitis and Achilles tendon problems are very similar. In fact a tight calf muscle or Achilles tendon can be a causative factor in calcaneal apophysitis. Therefore stretching the calf muscle and night splint use can be very helpful. There are special braces that can help Achilles tendon problems and they also can support and help treat calcaneal apophysitis.

Biomechanics can also factor into this, and either having a high arch or low arch can both exacerbate both conditions. Therefore treatments with supportive athletic shoes, over-the-counter high-level arch supports and prescription orthotics can be effective treatments. The bottom line, is that as with most medical conditions, appropriate diagnosis and treatment can be very effective. And there are many treatment options.

If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, please give us a call at 425-391-8666 or make an appointment online today.
Dr Timothy Young, a Board Certified Foot Surgeon Talks About Special Achilles Exercise Therapy

This is an extremely effective treatment for Achilles tendon problems. It's also very helpful for strengthening the calf muscle, and for improving balance. The premise of this is that you calf muscle is "firing" as it's getting longer - this is synonymous with deceleration as opposed to a normal muscle contracture where the muscle is getting shorter which is considered acceleration.

Key points:
-Use your upper body strength to raise your heal and then use your calf muscle to lower slowly. The best way to do this is with your hands supported on a high countertop and your feet on the floor with a raised forefoot
· Mild discomfort is okay.
· It is important to build up with this exercise and not do too much too soon.
· Some individuals add additional weight using a backpack
· Lower your heel slowly and it should be lower relative to your forefoot. Therefore some people would use a 1 inch block/book under the ball of the foot
· Start off with both feet simultaneously then add each foot individually.

The traditional Repetitions:
3 x 15 straight knee, then 3 x 15 with bent knee.
Frequency: Twice daily for 12 weeks

The toned down version:
Initially doing a set of 30 using both right and left simultaneously
After several weeks doing more:
An additional set of 30 on the right side
An additional set of 30 on the left side

Example below would be even better if the hands were on a high countertop
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If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain, give us a call at 425-391-8666 or make an appointment online today.
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At Issaquah Foot and Ankle Specialists, we provide exceptional care as sports medicine physicians. We’re the #1 foot and ankle source for Achilles tendon pain, heel bursitis, bone spurs, and retrocalcaneal bursitis. One of our primary areas of focus is sports medicine and sports injuries. Achilles tendon injuries can be extremely challenging.

We utilize the latest treatment options including shockwave therapy and other cutting edge sports medicine techniques to treat all types of Achilles tendon pain. We can provide urgent care in same-day appointments sports medicine related injuries as we're the #1 foot and ankle clinic. If you live in Bellevue, Seattle, Issaquah, Maple Valley or Sammamish we are here to help. Give us a call at 425-391-8666 or make an appointment online today.
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