Prolotherapy Therapy for Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a common and often debilitating condition that affects athletes and active individuals of all ages. The pain and discomfort associated with this condition can significantly impact performance and affect the ability to do even the most mundane tasks.  While traditional treatments for Achilles tendonitis have shown mixed results, a promising alternative therapy has emerged: prolotherapy. 

Dr. Schoene and Dr. Bever are experts in sports medicine and regenerative therapies for the feet and ankles. This regenerative type of treatment has been at the forefront of utilizing prolotherapy to effectively treat Achilles tendonitis. In this article, we delve into the world of prolotherapy and its innovative approach to treating Achilles tendonitis. We explore the underlying causes of the condition, the limitations of conventional treatments, and how prolotherapy offers a unique and potentially game-changing solution. 

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis refers to the inflammation and irritation of the Achilles tendon, which is the tendon connecting the heel bone to the calf muscles. The Achilles tendon is crucial for activities that involve the movement of the foot and ankle, such as walking, running, jumping, and pushing off during sports. Achilles tendonitis usually develops due to repetitive stress or overuse of the Achilles tendon. It can occur from activities that involve excessive or sudden increases in intensity, duration, or frequency of physical activity. Athletes, particularly runners, basketball players, and tennis players, are more prone to this condition. 

There are two main types of Achilles tendonitis: 

  • Non-insertional Achilles tendonitis: This type involves the middle portion of the Achilles tendon and is often characterized by microtears and degeneration of the tendon fibers. It’s commonly seen in active individuals, especially those involved in sports. 
  • Insertional Achilles tendonitis: This type affects the lower portion of the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the heel bone (calcaneus) and can occur in both active and inactive individuals but is more common in older adults. It involves inflammation and sometimes the development of bone spurs at the insertion point. 

What Are The Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis?

The primary symptom of Achilles tendonitis is pain and stiffness along the back of the lower leg, just above the heel. The pain may worsen with physical activity, particularly during running or jumping. Other common signs include swelling, tenderness, warmth, and thickening or enlargement of the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendonitis can cause discomfort and impact your ability to engage in daily activities. If left untreated or aggravated, it can lead to a more severe condition known as Achilles tendinosis, which involves degeneration and thickening of the tendon fibers. 

What Is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy, short for proliferative therapy or “injection” is a medical treatment aimed at promoting the natural healing of damaged or weakened ligaments, tendons, and joint structures.

Proliferative therapy involves the injection of a solution and can be done with different solutions, although our office chooses to use a particular solution that is natural in nature. The injection and solution trigger an inflammatory response that stimulates the body’s natural healing processes and encourages tissue repair. The goal of prolotherapy is to allow the specific cells to start the collagen repair process. It will then start to strengthen and stabilize the weakened or injured structures, alleviate pain, and improve overall joint function by eventually creating new collagen where the injury occurred. It’s commonly used to treat musculoskeletal conditions such as chronic ligament or tendon injuries, osteoarthritis, and joint instability. 

How Prolotherapy Can Help Treat Achilles Tendonitis

Prolotherapy can be a beneficial treatment option for Achilles tendonitis, particularly in cases where conservative measures have not provided relief. Here are some of the benefits of prolotherapy for treating Achilles tendonitis: 

Promotes Tissue Healing

Prolotherapy involves the injection of a special solution, into the affected area. This solution creates a controlled inflammatory response in the damaged tendon, stimulating the body’s natural healing process. This inflammation triggers the production of growth factors, collagen, and other healing substances, which promote tissue repair and regeneration in the Achilles tendon. 

Strengthens Tendon Structure

Achilles tendonitis is often associated with the weakening or degeneration of the tendon fibers. Prolotherapy injections stimulate the growth of new collagen fibers, increasing the strength and stability of the tendon. This enhanced tendon structure helps to alleviate pain and restore normal function. 

Reduces Pain and Inflammation

The localized inflammatory response triggered by prolotherapy injections can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with Achilles tendonitis. By promoting healing and reducing tissue irritation, prolotherapy can provide pain relief and improve overall comfort. 

Improves Tendon Function

Prolotherapy injections aim to enhance the biomechanical properties of the Achilles tendon, improving its ability to absorb and transmit forces during movement. This improved tendon function can help restore the normal range of motion, flexibility, and strength in the affected ankle and lower leg. 

Minimally Invasive Treatment

Prolotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in an outpatient setting. The injections are usually well-tolerated, and the recovery time is relatively quick compared to more invasive treatment options. 

What Does the Procedure Involve?

During a prolotherapy session, we carefully inject the solution into the targeted area. The number of prolotherapy sessions required varies depending on your specific case and the severity of your condition. Typically, a series of injections are administered over a period of weeks or months to achieve the best results. 

Typically the benefits may manifest gradually over time as the healing process progresses. Prolotherapy is considered a safe procedure when performed by a trained healthcare professional. Side effects are generally mild and temporary, including soreness, swelling, and bruising at the injection site. Serious complications are rare but can include infection or nerve damage if proper precautions are not followed. 

Prolotherapy at Our Chicago or Gurnee Office

Prolotherapy can offer a non-surgical approach to promote healing, reduce pain, and improve function in individuals suffering from Achilles tendonitis. It’s important to note that prolotherapy may not be suitable for everyone and is only one of several treatment options. 

The decision to pursue prolotherapy should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional, such as our sports medicine physicians or orthopedic specialists, who can assess your specific condition, consider other treatment options, and determine if prolotherapy is appropriate for you. Contact us to book an appointment and let us get you back to doing what you do best.