Achilles tendon pain is a major problem for athletes and runners.  And it sends so many patients my way as a podiatrist in Houston, TX. Often, active patients prefer to resolve pain using more natural treatments. And, thanks to that growing demand? I'm now treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave therapy. 

What is Achilles Tendinitis? treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave therapy

In my office, Achilles tendinitis is one of the main causes of Achilles tendon pain. For those who are unfamiliar, the Achilles tendon is one of the strongest and largest in your body. Housed along the back of your lower leg, it begins near your knee. From there, it runs down the back of your leg, through your calf. Finally, it attaches to your heel bone. 

Why is Achilles tendon pain so common? This large tendon gets involved every time you walk or run. It also plays a role in your leg movements. So sports such as soccer, basketball and tennis can strain your tendon. After too much strain, it can develop inflammation. And when that happens, I’ll diagnose you with Achilles tendonitis.

What Causes Achilles Tendinitis?

For most people, Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury. That means you’ve repeatedly put too much pressure on your tendon. And that causes inflammation to develop. 

Yet, for others, biomechanical issues can add to the stress on the Achilles tendon. In fact, both factors contribute to inflammation. And that's why I see many different causes of Achilles tendinitis. 

Active Causes

These activities and lifestyle choices can lead to inflammation and tendon pain. 

  • Skipping a warm-up or stretch before your workout
  • Overloading your calf muscles during exercise
  • Sudden training increases, either with speed, intensity or total mileage
  • Taking part in sports that involve lots of lateral movements, or sudden starts and stops. As mentioned earlier, basketball and tennis are top contributors to Achilles tendon pain.
  • Wearing worn out shoes, or any shoes that lack proper support
  • Regularly wearing high heels

Biomechanical Contributors

In some cases, your body construction or gait puts excess pressure on your tendon. Contributing factors include. 

  • A leg length discrepancy. (When one of your legs is longer than the other.)
  • Having flat feet
  • But also having high arches

Whatever causes Achilles tendinitis, we can resolve your pain using Shockwave therapy. 

Treating Achilles Tendinitis Symptoms  Achilles tendinitis

With this condition, you may notice pain anywhere along your Achilles tendon. Most commonly, the pain develops where your tendon attaches at the back of your heel bone. Otherwise, you’ll notice it most within the tendon itself. 

Often, your pain will be worst first thing in the morning. Then, as you walk more, your pain may improve. But, without treatment, you may experience pain all day long. It will be worst when walking or taking part in your favorite athletic activities. 

Before Shockwave therapy, we offered a few different ways to manage Achilles tendinitis. 

First, for overuse injuries, I’d tell patients to reduce their activity levels. (At least until their pain improved.) In some case, I’d recommend oral anti-inflammatory medications. These would reduce inflammation and discomfort. 

Many people benefitted from wearing a night splint. (That's a device thatkeeps your Achilles tendon from shortening while you sleep. So it eliminates your early morning discomfort.)

Now, for patients whose biomechanical challenges led to Achilles tendinitis? I always recommend custom orthotics, since these medical devices correct faulty foot mechanics. This reduces pulling on your Achilles tendon, which should improve inflammation and pain. 

Recently, I’ve seen increased interest in regenerative treatment options. We offer several injections in this category. Options include Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), Amniotic Stem Cells, and Exosome Cells. And each one can reduce inflammation in your tendon while healing any tissue damage. But by treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave therapy, we can avoid injections. 

Understanding Shockwave Therapy 

Shockwave Therapy is a non-surgical treat option for Achilles tendon pain.  I use a low-intensity form of Shockwave called Extracorporeal Pulse Activation Technology (EPAT). It's a non-invasive regenerative medicine treatment that helps your body heal itself faster. 

Using thousands of ultrasound and acoustic waves, EPAT targets your Achilles tendon. On contact, they create microtears. Thanks to this minor damage, your body recognizes that there’s a problem in the area. Quickly, it redirects critical healing resources to the area, reducing pain and inflammation. 

Why Treat Achilles Tendinitis With Shockwave Therapy

EPAT technology offers a natural, and superior, way to resolve Achilles tendon pain. That's because it helps your body form new, healthy cells at a faster pace. At the same time, Shockwave therapy boosts blood flow to the inflamed tendon. And that forms new blood vessels through a process called angiogenesis. 

As a result, your body can send important growth factors and nutrients to your injured tendon. These help your injury heal at a much faster pace. Shockwave therapy can also remove barriers to healing. It breaks down calcium deposits and scar tissue in and around your Achilles tendon. Then new, healthy tissue moves in. 

Want to hear the best news better? When treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave therapy, you dull your pain receptors. So you experience less discomfort. And you may not have to reduce your activity levels while you heal! 

Shockwave Treatment: What to Expect

If you're treating Achilles tendinitis, we’ll likely recommend three EPAT sessions. Expect a week of space between each visit. But don’t worry: each session should take 10 minutes or less. 

The majority of patients experience noticeable pain relief after the first visit. And, since Shockwave therapy offers cumulative pain relief,  almost all patients are pain-free by their final visit. 

Choosing Shockwave Therapy in Houston, TX

When we begin Shockwave therapy for Achilles tendon pain, we'll apply a gel to the back of your leg and heel. This helps sound waves directly transfer to your tendon. And it lets me deliver fast and effective pain relief. 

Thankfully, treatment is virtually pain-free. Still, some patients find the process irritating. For them, we can adjust the intensity on the treatment head. That way we can deliver therapy without using any form of anesthetics.  

After treating Achilles tendinitis with Shockwave therapy, you can resume regular activities. That's why this regenerative medicine treatment gets you back into your favorite games. And fast! Ready to get started? Just reach out today and ask us about Shockwave therapy for Achilles tendinitis. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.