The Achilles tendon is an important and easily injured tendon at the back of the foot. Preventing and treating tendonitis is key to avoiding more serious injury. Over the last two decades, treatment of Achilles tendonitis with a class 4 laser has proven to be effective and safe. At Best Foot Doctor NY we are proud to offer this option for our patients.
Meet Your Achilles
The Achilles tendon is a commonly injured tendon located in the back of the foot. It runs from the heel bone upward to the calf muscle and is essential for walking, running, and standing on your tiptoes. By connecting a bone to a muscle, tendons offer support and strength as you move. Tendonitis, the condition of having an inflamed tendon, can occur for a variety of reasons.
Common risk factors include chronic overuse, a long period of rest followed by a dramatic increase of activity, strain due to not stretching properly, low or fallen arches in your feet, wearing shoes that do not provide adequate support, fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin and Cipro, and high blood pressure.
Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is characterized by pain and tightness in the heel area. It may be swollen, sensitive to touch, tight or stiff, and sore during or after activity. Your range of motion is often limited. Symptoms can also increase with certain positions and you may experience greater swelling and stiffness upon waking. As the tendonitis worsens, the pain will increase in intensity and duration.
If left untreated, tendonitis increases your risk of a tendon tear, which is very painful and often requires surgery to correct.
Treatment of Achilles Tendonitis
The good news is that Achilles tendonitis is fairly simple to prevent and treat if caught early enough. And innovative treatments are being studied and have proven to be successful, including laser treatment.
Best Foot Doctor NY recommends and provides Achilles tendonitis treatment with a class 4 laser for their patients who qualify.
How to Reduce Your Risk
Before considering laser treatment, make sure that you are eliminating and lessening your risk factors. Stretch well before and after exercising, gradually increase your exercise levels, wear proper shoes and consider additional arch support if needed. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms that you think may be related to Achilles tendonitis.
Managing Your Symptoms at Home
At home, follow the RICE acronym to help manage your symptoms.
- Rest: While you are waiting for your appointment, do not continue with strenuous activity.
- Ice: Apply ice to the site of injury, alternating 20 minutes of an ice pack followed by 20 minutes without. Alternate heat and ice if needed.
- Compression: Use a compression bandage to support the affected tendon.
- Elevation: Throughout the day, keep your foot elevated. This helps to prevent swelling which increases pressure and pain in your heel.
Mild over-the-counter pain medications may be helpful. Be careful to seek medical attention so that you do not mask the pain and continue to incur injury.
Treatment with a Class 4 Laser
Laser treatment has been an effective tool in the treatment of injuries to joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in recent years. There are several classes of lasers including class 3 which uses cold therapy and class 4 which uses heat therapy. The class 4 laser treatment is preferred by doctors and professional athletes for Achilles tendonitis because it is better adapted to tendons and it reaches further into the body than other lasers can. Organizations such as the Baltimore Orioles professional baseball team have chosen to include class 4 laser treatment in their standard of best practice for their members who experience Achilles tendonitis.
The Laser Procedure
Treatment with a class 4 laser is a quick, painless, in-office procedure. You do not need to prepare ahead of time by fasting or otherwise changing your day-to-day routine. Similarly, there is no post-procedure recovery time.
What to Expect
The laser is a small, handheld device that your provider will hold to the area for a few minutes. You will be positioned on your stomach and may feel a warm sensation as the laser beams pinpoint the area.
How Lasers Work
Laser treatment uses light waves to stimulate the affected area. The lightwaves encourage blood flow and the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). As blood flow increases, bringing more red blood cells and nutrients to the sight of injury, healing takes place faster. ATP also stimulates the cellular metabolism process, allowing the cells to heal and replicate faster. Increased levels of oxygen, nutrients, and a faster rate of cellular metabolism help to reduce pain, decrease swelling, and relax the tendon. As these processes continue, your range of motion will increase.
After Laser Therapy
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need multiple sessions of laser therapy. Your provider at Best Foot Doctor NY will continuously evaluate and keep you informed about your progress. Regardless of the length of your treatment, after just your first session you can expect to have less pain. Over time your tendon will continue to heal and be strengthened, and you will be well on your way to recovery. Your doctor may recommend certain activities that will help to strengthen your calf muscle so that you do not experience recurring tendonitis.
Benefits of Laser Treatment
Utilizing laser treatment can help prevent your tendonitis from progressing to a tendon tear or rupture. The treatment is also proving effective in minimizing or even eliminating the need for physical therapy. Laser treatment has little to no side effects or risk factors. Talk to your doctor to see if it is an option for you. At Best Foot Doctor NY we welcome your questions. We look forward to helping you get back to your active lifestyle.
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