The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body and attaches the calf muscle to the heel. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has found that the Achilles is most commonly injured amongst runners especially when suddenly doing a sprint. Other times, such as when changing the exercise regime to include running up hills also increases the chance of an Achilles injury.
There is little that Western medicine has to offer in the treatment of this condition. Corticosteroid injections may provide some temporary pain relief. There is no evidence that ultrasound has any benefit. Physiotherapists do little more apart from strapping the ankle with a bandage and recommending gentle exercise and rest.
Some years ago, Shock Wave Therapy was seen as a new break through for Achilles Tendonitis but the research actually concluded that it either had no benefit or worsened the condition.
Even though scientists have confirmed that Achilles Tendonitis does not actually have inflammation, anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen is still commonly prescribed. Ibuprofen has the proven side effects of nausea, gastro-intestinal bleeding, dangerously raises liver enzymes, increases blood pressure and can cause bronchospasms which sometimes has led to deaths.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used safely for over 2000 years to treat ligament and tendon problems including Achilles Tendonitis.
In 2010, The European Journal of Applied Physiological Medicine reported that a study of acupuncture on Achilles tendon injuries had concluded that there was significant therapeutic benefit. The research revealed that the acupuncture increased the blood volume and oxygen saturation to the Achilles tendon which lasted well over 30 minutes after the treatment ceased. One of the anatomical features of the Achilles tendon is that it naturally has very poor blood supply and this is the exact reason why Achilles tendonitis can take so long to heal.
The fundamental aim of acupuncture and moxibustion is to increase energy and blood supply to the area of the Achilles injury which then promotes regeneration and rejuvenation.
Another study found that acupuncture was shown to have a positive effect on the regular and parallel collagen fibers of the Achilles and thus accelerated the healing of the tendon.