Your Achilles may be the largest and strongest tendon in your body—it has to be in order to keep you walking, standing, running, and jumping for a lifetime—but this doesn’t mean the tendon is indestructible. In fact, a common complaint among active adults (and especially middle-aged men) is Achilles tendinitis.
Now, this particular soft tissue injury can be a nuisance, but it is also quite treatable and responds well to conservative treatment.
The problem starts when high-impact sports and activities like running, basketball, and tennis place a lot of stress and strain on your Achilles tendons. Whereas conditioned athletes can generally avoid this injury with proper training and gradually building up their tolerance, those of us who qualify as “weekend warriors” are more susceptible. The risk is particularly high for men in their 30s or 40s – something that can be attributed to the simple fact tendons usually starting to weaken with age.
Whereas Achilles tendinitis is often effectively addressed with conservative care, it can take up to three months (or longer!) for symptoms to fully subside.
Three months can feel like a long time, but we have good news – our doctors can provide treatment with faster healing and recovery times!
Traditionally, a conservative treatment plan entails decreasing—or even completely stopping—any athletic activity that causes discomfort or pain. The acute pain might be managed with ice and OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Physical therapy and orthotic devices may also be prescribed.
We may still incorporate those kinds of elements in a treatment plan, but we can potentially help the Achilles tendon heal faster with advanced treatment options – like laser therapy or VIAFLOWTM.
Laser therapy uses the energy of concentrated light beams (lasers) that are able to penetrate through outer layers of skin and other tissue to reach the damaged tendon. Once at the site of injury, the burst of energy stimulates the body’s natural repair and regeneration processes at the cellular level. Further, it also increases blood flow to the area, which delivers greater quantities of the nutrients and oxygen those repairing cells require.
This particular process is painless and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the governmental agency responsible for regulating medical equipment (along with ensuring the safety of food and drug products, of course).
Another advanced treatment we offer for Achilles tendon injuries is VIAFLOWTM.
VIAFLOWTM is a revolutionary product created from placental connective tissue matrix that would usually just be discarded. In this instance, healthy pregnant mothers have voluntarily donated the tissue after planned C-section births.
The reason placental connective tissue matrix can be used in heel pain treatment—more on this in just a moment—is because the tissue retains biologic components normally found in the body that influence the immune system.
Amniotic therapy has been used for some time, but was previously administered in the form of grafts (applied to the surface). With VIAFLOWTM, the placental tissue has been converted into an injectable form, which allows us to deliver the valuable biologic components directly to the site of the injury.
This product delivers naturally-occurring growth factors and anti-inflammatory proteins, which contribute to faster healing times. As with laser therapy, this is a highly-regulated product and has been proven to be completely safe. (We wouldn’t offer it if it wasn’t!)
In addition to the actual healing processes themselves, laser therapy and VIAFLOWTM can both also lead to faster healing in another way – surgery avoidance.
Some cases of Achilles tendon injuries are best resolved with surgery. There is no way around it sometimes, but advanced therapies like these do give us another option to reduce the risk we need to recommend surgical intervention. Even though our surgical staff is exceptional, we would both prefer you not have to go under the knife (if you don’t need to). And these therapies give us some extra options.If you would like to learn more about these treatments that contribute to faster healing time for Achilles tendon injuries—or you would like to come see us for a consultation or regular office visit—call us at 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if calling from Lake County). We will be more than happy to answer any questions and help you however we can!