In most cases, the term inflammation goes hand in hand with pain. Achilles tendonitis is no different. Achilles tendonitis, in short, is inflammation of the achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. The cause of achilles tendonitis is typically due to repetitive stress rather than a specific injury, meaning pushing your body too hard too soon for a significant period of time makes it more likely to develop. Tight calf muscles and bone spurs can also lead to this condition.
Symptoms of achilles tendonitis include pain and stiffness along the back of the ankle, especially in the morning, pain that worsens with activity, severe pain the day after exercising, and thickening or swelling of the achilles tendon. Current treatments include rest, regular icing, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, physical therapy (including various exercises and stretches), and surgery. But what if you’ve tried all of the above and nothing has helped? Or you’re someone that needs to get back on their (painless) feet quickly without delay? A recent study using low-level laser therapy could provide immediate and lasting relief in the treatment of Achilles Tendonitis.
This study involved induced tendonitis in over 200 rats. The subjects were treated with either low-level laser therapy, dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid injection), or diclofenac (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication). Results showed that low-level laser therapy was “significantly superior” to commonly used anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs. Cold laser therapy also prevented hemorrhage, reduced inflammation severity, and preserved tendon morphology compared with the groups receiving medication.
How Does Cold Laser Therapy Help?
How does laser therapy have such a great anti-inflammatory effect? Laser therapy treatment helps reduce pain and inflammation while enhancing tissue healing in soft tissue cells, muscle cells, and even ligaments and bones. It increases oxygenation of tissues and allows injured or damaged cells to absorb photons of light, which speeds up the healing process.
Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) can stimulate any cell in the body where an inflammatory process is occurring. It does this by increasing the amount of ATP (also known as cellular energy) produced by the cell to give it a boost of energy required to repair damage from the inflammatory process. The healing response cannot take place when the body’s cells do not have enough energy. Cell proliferation and inflammatory mediators produced by the cells help with inflammation, edema, and regeneration of tissues. Increased endothelial (blood vessel cell) production creates more capillaries and increases blood flow to the damaged areas of the body. LLLT also increases collagen production, and bone, muscle, and nerve tissue repair.