teenage boy getting his foot examined by physical therapist

Achilles tendinopathy

Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, also known as Achilles tendinopathy, is a common overuse injury and is effectively treated with physical therapy.

Physical therapy for Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinitis is an aggravation of the tendon attached to the back of the heel and results from overuse. People with Achilles tendinopathy may experience mild aching on the back of the lower leg after exercise, stiffness in the back of the ankle first thing in the morning, tenderness to touch, difficulty walking, and pain when the tendon is stretched (when you lift your foot or toes). In some cases, the back of the ankle/heel may have swelling, thickening, or be warm to the touch.

Physical therapy for Achilles tendinopathy can identify the cause and address any biomechanical issues causing inflammation.

Causes of Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is common in runners who have recently altered the duration or intensity. It’s also a common injury in active middle-aged people.

teenage boy balancing on one foot

Achilles tendinitis symptoms

Patients suffering from achilles tendinopathy may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the heel that worsens while walking or running
  • Swelling in the heel that worsens throughout the day
  • Stiffness or tenderness along the back of the ankle
  • Difficulty walking
  • Warmth or redness in the back of the ankle
physical therapist helping patient use resistance bands

How we treat Achilles tendinopathy

The first step in treatment for Achilles tendionpathy is to complete a thorough examination of the entire lower extremity, including a biomechanical gait analysis. Then, we can use a wide variety of treatments to reduce inflammation and correct any issues. These may include:

  • Splinting/bracing to alleviate the strain on the tendon
  • Soft tissue mobilization/manual therapy to decrease inflammation and promote healing of the tendon
  • Strengthening/flexibility and proprioceptive exercises
  • Dry needling
  • Blood flow restriction
  • Home exercise program
  • Modalities for pain and inflammation, like ultrasound, iontophoresis, electrical stimulation, and ice)
  • Methods like taping and orthotics to alter faulty mechanics
  • Education about lifestyle changes, like proper shoes or activity modification
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What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.