Achilles tendonitis is one of those annoying injuries that plagues many people and can last a long long time. Over half of middle distance runners have it and up to 16% of affected people have to stop playing sport because of the chronic pain and weakness. I have had it myself in both achilles at the same time after doing too many double unders and running in a workout. They plagued me that much my wife gave me the nickname “kankles”. Thankfully as I got better I lost that nickname.
Many different methods have been suggested to treat Achilles tendinopathy, such as;
- eccentric strengthening
- the injection of corticosteroids
- shockwave therapy
- glyceryl trinitrate patches.
A relatively new and increasingly popular option for the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy is Autologous blood injections, which involves reinjecting your own blood into the tendon.
A new study on Autogolous blood injections to the Achilles tendon
A sports medicine clinic in New Zealand has recently conducted a study comparing the blood injections in addition to an eccentric exercise rehab program. The eccentric exercises are when you only lower the weight rather than lift it. For the calf this is done by lifting both heels and then lowering down on the affected leg. Both groups did these calf/Achilles exercises for 12 weeks. The experimental group had two injections of their blood into the middle of the tendon one month apart. The control group had a needle put into the tendon with nothing injected in. This was done so that both groups did not know if they had the blood injection, which then rules out a placebo effect.
Interestingly both groups improved well and the same after 6 months regardless of whether or not they had the blood injections.
Take home message
The use of autologous blood injections is no better than an eccentric program for mid Achilles tendinopathy. You are better off to be patient do your rehab exercises for at least 6 months and you will improve. Sometimes there is no quick fix and unfortunately an injured Achilles tendon is something that does take a while to improve. At Canton Beach Physio we use individualised treatment and exercises to help get your Achilles tendon strong and pain free so you can return to sport and normal activity as quickly as possible.
If you are having pain in the Achilles tendon please call your Physiotherapist at Canton Beach Road Physiotherapy on 02 4396 5686 or visit our clinic at 20 Canton Beach Road in Toukley for more information.