With the improving weather and more people returning to activities after the winter months or taking up new activities with the stretch in the evenings we are seeing a lot more tendon type injuries in the clinic – one in particular is achilles tendon injuries. This is the tendon from the calf that attaches to the heel.
If you think you have an achilles tendon injury some of these symptoms may sound familiar. Pain in the tendon with starting a new sport or activity or return to an activity after a period of rest. You may find the tendon is stiff or sore in the mornings and better as the day progresses. You may find that when you increase your activity i.e. start running that your achilles is sore and as you warm up it settles down but when you cool down the pain returns. You may have swelling or a small lump along the tendon when you compare it to the other side.
If what you are suffering from achilles tendon pain it is important to see a Chartered Physiotherapist to confirm the diagnosis and to start you on a progressive rehabilitation program. The current research has shown that exercise is the number 1 treatment options for tendon injuries.
Ten Tips on what NOT to do if you are suffering from tendon pain
- Do not rest completely. This reduces the ability of the tendon to take load (i.e. sports/activities). Reduce loads to the level that the tendon can tolerate and then build that up slowly.
- Do not have injection therapy. Injections of substances into the tendon have not been shown to be effective in good clinical trials. They should only ever be considered as a last last resort.
- Do not ignore the pain. The pain is a way for your tendon to tell you that the load is too much. Reduce the aspects of training that are overloading your tendon.
- Do not stretch the tendon as this can cause a compressive load that can aggravate the tendon
- Do not massage the tendon. It is already overloaded and irritated therefore adding further insult by massaging it can increase the pain
- Do not be worried about the images of your tendon seen on MRI or ultrasound scans. There is lots of evidence to show that tendons with changes on imaging can tolerate activity however it just needs to be built up gradually.
- Do not be worried about the tendon rupturing as pain is protective of the tendon which makes you reduce your activity. The majority of people who rupture a tendon have never had pain in it before.
- Do not take short cuts with rehabilitation as the tendon needs to builds its strength and capacity. If quick fixes are promised as cures they may give short term relief but the pain will come back.