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Achilles Tendon Injury: Physical Therapy and Rehab

Topic Overview

Rehabilitation (rehab) and/or physical therapy are the usual treatment for an Achilles tendon injury. For Achilles tendinopathy, physical therapy can decrease your pain and allow you to gradually return to your normal activities. For an Achilles tendon rupture, a rehab program after surgery to repair the rupture can strengthen the tendon and help the tendon heal. This program typically includes physical therapy.

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 and will also provide education, instruction, and support for recovery.

For an Achilles tendon injury, the following are often used:

  • Stretching and flexibility exercises are key to helping your tendon heal without shortening and becoming chronically painful.
  • Strengthening exercises 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 improves blood circulation, which may aid the healing process.
  • Deep massage helps you increase flexibility and blood circulation in the lower leg and can help prevent further injury.

Rehabilitation

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 that considers 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 regardless of whether you have surgery.

Your rehab program may include:

Recovery differs among people and depends on how severe the tendon injury is and whether you complete your program. Dedicating time and energy to your rehab program will speed your recovery and help prevent future injury.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Joan Rigg, PT, OCS - Physical Therapy
Last Revised December 10, 2012

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