I have had Achilles tendonitis for 4 years in my right heel. 4 years ago I had a fall and it didn’t seem too bad but when I drove the car my heel would ache after 20 minutes and after about an hour my leg would start to swell up. Eventually I took it in to be checked out and it turned out I had some small tears in my Achilles.
I went to rehab from hell one time and never returned. They gave me deep tissue massage and it was agony. The worst part was that the rehab expert masseuse sadistic @#$%^&* hanging on to my foot refused to stop when I asked him to give me a break for a minute. Well that was a disaster as I have issues with being controlled so I became hysterical and he still didn’t let go. JERK!
Initially my heel was better once it healed but as I started to increase my activity level my problems came back. It became a balancing act where I could push it only so far with exercise before I would be put on the sidelines with pain. So I went to a different rehab facility and they gave me weekly ultra-sound on my foot and another treatment to increase blood flow. I did that for 8 months with no improvement and gave up. I tried another rehab facility and again same drill same result.
I started to research treatments for my problem and I tried a heel wedge and custom orthotics. Anti-inflammatory drugs became my best friend. I was not willing to have cortisone shots in my foot. I had heard from several people that it would make the problem worse in the end.
I was well aware that my weight was a factor and possibly because of my weight my calf muscles were always tight and therefore pulling the Achilles taught. I tried using a heating pad on my calf to loosen the muscle and ended up burning myself twice after I fell asleep with the pad on. The heat helped a little but not enough to take a chance on more burns.
Recently I read about platelet-rich plasma therapy. The idea is they draw some of your blood and separate out platelet-rich plasma and inject it into the area of the injury. Platelets promote healing and one of the reasons Achilles tendonitis is so hard to treat is that the tendon has very poor blood supply. Although a few athletes including Tiger Woods have used this therapy the evidence that it works is mostly anecdotal. I don’t put down my money on hearsay medicine. I let somebody else figure out that cortisone was the worst idea they ever tried.
Well this got me thinking that if blood flow is my problem then I am putting my heating pad in the wrong spot. I should have it on my Achilles where the injury is. Better yet why not try one of those wax baths that you can put your hands or feet in to make them soft. Well I have dunked my heel about three times every other night for a week and a half and I think I am on to something. My heel is almost completely better. I’m not going to push it and head back to spinning class or stair climbing yet but I am hopeful.
If this ends up being a bust I can still try deep tissue massage with some ground rules this time. I may also try eccentric exercises. These are exercises where the muscle lengthens as it tenses. It aggravates the tendon a little but is supposed to be effective. Here is an article about using it for tennis elbow.(CLICK HERE)
Anybody out there have other suggestions for treatment?