Rehabilitation (rehab) and/or physical therapy are the usual treatment for an Achilles tendon injury. For Achilles tendinopathy, physical therapy can decrease your pain. It can allow you to gradually return to your normal activities. For an Achilles tendon rupture, you can try a rehab program after surgery to repair the rupture. Rehab can strengthen the tendon and help the tendon heal. A rehab program typically includes physical therapy.
Physical therapy is the treatment of a disease or condition by physical or mechanical means, such as through exercise or heat. A physical therapist provides these treatments. He or she will also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.
For an Achilles tendon injury, the following treatments are often used.
- Stretching and flexibility exercises. These are key to helping your tendon heal without shortening and causing long-term pain.
- Strengthening exercises. They will help you regain strength you might have lost while the tendon was healing. And they will help protect you from another injury.
- Ultrasound heat therapy. It improves blood circulation, which may aid the healing process.
- Deep massage. It helps you increase flexibility and blood circulation in the lower leg. It can also help prevent further injury.
Rehabilitation for an Achilles tendon rupture helps you regain strength and flexibility in the tendon and leg. You can do it at home or in a gym. Your doctor or physical therapist will design a program for you. He or she will consider your normal level of activity, your physical fitness, and the extent of injury to the Achilles tendon. You will likely need rehab after an Achilles tendon injury whether or not you have surgery.
Your rehab program may include:
- Stretching and flexibility exercises.
- Strengthening exercises.
- Endurance activities, such as riding a stationary bicycle.
- Coordination and/or agility training.
Recovery varies among people. It depends on how severe the tendon injury is and whether you complete your program. Giving time and energy to your rehab program will speed your recovery and help prevent future injury.
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Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy