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|Achilles Injury, Achilles Tendinopathy, Achilles Tendinosis|
What is Achilles Tendinopathy (or Tendinosis)?The Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body. The main function of the Achilles tendon is to attach the calf muscles to the heel, and therefore assists in moving the foot from the ankle joint. With sudden increases in activity or general ‘overuse’, the Achilles is put under greater strain which can cause a Tendinopathy (tendon failure). This can occur at the Achilles insertion (back of the heel), at the middle portion (midpoint) and at the junction between the tendon and muscle.
How long will it last?This largely depends on the location of the Achilles Tendinopathy and how quickly it is treated. Pain located at the heel bone and partial tears take longer to heal than midpoint Achilles Tendinopathies. An Ultrasound scan may be necessary to assess the extent and direct management of the injury.
Signs and SymptomsThe symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy are:
- Gradual increase in symptoms – this can coincide with recent increase in activity. Pain can decrease following warm up, then return at the end of a run/walk.
- Pain and stiffness in the Achilles tendon, particularly in the morning.
- Swelling and heat at the heel or Achilles tendon (the tendon can appear to have thickened or become ‘lumpy’).
- Difficulty raising heel off the ground during walking or running.
Suggestions for managing Achilles Tendinopathy
- Rest from aggravating activity and manage the pain – ice and offload the tendon using a heel raise and supportive shoes.
- Seek help from a Physiotherapist, Podiatrist or Sports Physician who will diagnose the type of Achilles Tendinopathy you may have and outline a strengthening and stretching program for Achilles to improve the healing rate. If the Achilles Tendinopathy is resulting due to abnormalities in your running or walking mechanics, your Podiatrist may also suggest Orthotic Therapy as a long-term treatment option.
- Check that your footwear is supportive and not worn out. If the midsole is too flat or has compressed with wear, a simple change of shoe could make a big difference to your symptoms. If you are unsure about the type of shoe you should be using, seek advice from a Podiatrist.
- The sooner Achilles Tendinopathies are treated, the better. In some cases, untreated Achilles pain can lead to severe pain and extremely delayed return to activity. In these cases, your Podiatrist or Physiotherapist may refer you to a Sports Physician for further treatment.