Achilles Tendon Physiotherapy

Laser therapy has been used in clinical practice for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries for over 26 years.  As with other healthcare applications utilizing laser technology, knowledge of this modality has grown considerably since its inception.  A recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine examined the usefulness of low intensity laser therapy for the treatment of achilles tendon injury.  A significant difference was found between the treatment group and the placebo group, with the laser patients healing much faster.  Specifically, the laser group achieved the same level of healing in 4 weeks that the placebo group achieved in 12 weeks.  (Eccentric strengthening of the tendon was given to both study groups since this has been established in the literature as beneficial for overuse tendon injuries).  For those readers seeking a viable treatment approach for their Achilles tendon injury, this recent research supports an approach combining low intensity laser therapy and eccentric exercise.

Achilles Tendon

Achilles Tendon

Laser for the Achilles Tendon

From a practitioner standpoint, this paper provides some other useful information.  The success of laser therapy for various injuries largely depends on the settings chosen by the practitioner.  A longer, more intense setting is not necessarily better.  Through clinical trials like this one, it has been discovered that the use of certain lower settings for tendon injuries will benefit the patient more.  Perhaps another example of how scientific evidence can guide practitioners and patients in choosing the best treatments available.

Achilles Tendon Injuries

The Achilles tendon is located just above our heel, below the calf muscle.  It is actually a continuation of the calf muscles (the gastrocnemius and the soleus) and inserts on the bone in our heel.  This tendon allows us to stand up on our toes. Injury to this tendon is common.  Achilles Tendon injuries can range from rupture to a mild tendinosis.  Obviously, the appropriate treatment approach depends on the specific diagnosis.

Physiotherapy for Achilles Tendon Injury

If you have an achilles injury (such as achilles tendinopathy, achilles tendinosis, achilles tendonitis, achilles rupture or simple achilles tendon pain) there are various treatment options available.  As mentioned above, laser therapy has a great track record for effectively treating this area, especially in acute cases.  Laser therapy is also commonly called cold laser therapy or low intensity laser therapy.  For chronic, stubborn tendon complaints more aggressive treatments like active release technique or graston technique are perhaps more effective.  Again, please look around on our site to get an idea of what these treatments entail.  For active release technique click here.  For more information on graston technique, please click here.  For more information about our clinic, please call us at 905.220.7858. or email at info@burlingtonsportstherapy.com.

References
Stergioulas A, Stergioula M, Aarskog R et al. Effects of low-level laser therapy and eccentric exercise in the treatment of recreational athletes with chronic achilles tendinopathy. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 2008: 36(5); 881-887.
World Association for Laser Therapy (WALT). Laser dosage recommendations. Available at http://waltza.co.za/

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