Performance Physical Therapy

Inflamed Achilles Tendon

Whitney was having pain in her ankle for some time, and thought it would just go away. Instead, not only was the ankle sore, she started to aggravate her knee and lower back. Anti-inflammatories like Aleve and Aspirin weren’t doing the job, and so she eventually went to see her sports medicine doctor.

It turned out Whit had an inflamed Achilles tendon, and her doctor offered her two choices wearing a boot to force rest, or go to PT. From past experience, Whit knew physical therapy was eventually going to be the best way to get her ankle and other problems into shape and she came to see us.

When we examined her, we also noted that another ligament, the medial collateral, was also sore. The combination of these two chronically inflamed ligaments were causing a buildup of scar tissue as well. By the time Whit came in to see us, she was limping around especially after long hours on her feet, and her heeled shoes were sitting in the closet, impossible to wear without pain. Whit was running for office, so she had to be able to walk through neighborhoods, up and down stairs, in order to meet with voters. We needed to get her back into walking shape quickly.

We started her on an exercise program twice a week, working on stretching, balance, and strengthening the muscles in her foot and calves, as well as massage and TENS. We also helped develop home-based exercises, so she could continue to make progress at home. After the end of the course of therapy, the Achilles pain was gone, and introduction of arch supports in her shoes along with a home exercise program addressed the medial collateral pain.

Problem: Chronic foot and ankle pain with no precipitating cause. On exam, the orthopedist found an inflamed Achilles tendon, but we found that another ligament was also contributing to the problem, making the solution a bit more complex.

Solution: A course of PT for 12 weeks, with a variety of exercises, gradually increasing in difficulty and concentrating on building up muscle strength in the foot, ankle and leg, along with work on overall balance.

Outcome: “I can finally bring the heels out of the closet!” said Whitney. “The advice I got regarding wearing better supporting shoes has helped reduce the pain from my medial collateral ligament, that was so sore, it was hard turning my ankle just to put on shoes or socks. My Achilles was so painful, I was limping around and getting secondary muscle pain in my hip and back. After we rehabbed the Achilles, I’m back to walking longer distances and have managed to lose ten pounds as well. I’m looking forward to starting a couch to 5K program soon!”

After Care: Whitney was sent home with a home exercise program, and options to get some balance foam to consider balance exercises to continue to strengthen the muscles, and advice to use arch supports to prevent a recurrence. When we checked in with Whit four weeks later, she reported that her Achilles tendon was still doing well, and she was able to wear a variety of shoes to all of her business meetings. She has invested in several sets of arch supports she can move from shoe to shoe, and is working with her personal trainer to keep her ankle in good shape. “We’re doing a lot of balance work on the BOSU like we did in therapy, and I am following up with my doctor about my medial collateral ligament, because some aspects of ankle rotation are still a bit troublesome. I need an MRI to see if we need to do anything further, but as long as I keep up with the stretches I learned at Performance, I’m able to function close to 100%.”

If you are having pain in your ankle or calf, you might be suffering from Achilles tendon issues. Many people assume that this sort of injury will require a boot, shots, or even surgery, especially in a case like Whit’s. We were able to effectively reduce the scar tissue and help repair the integrity of the tendon without any other more invasive or life disrupting treatment, which was a win for Whitney, and treated the problem with the lowest possible cost of time and money.

You can read more about ankle and Achilles tendon issues here, and more about how to prevent ankle issues while wearing the shoes of your choice here.

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