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Achilles Tendinopathy

What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

Achilles Tendinopathy is a condition that causes pain in the Achilles tendon that joins your heel bone to your calf muscles. It is a relatively common soft tissue injury and affects people of all ages, both athletes and non-athletes.

Medical infographic of achilles tendon illustration

What cause Achilles Tendinopathy?

Sometimes it may start after an injury or strain to the area, and it is commonly caused by overloading the tendon, for example suddenly increasing your activity levels.

You are more at risk of developing Achilles Tendinopathy if you have diabetes, tight and weak calf muscles, or stiff ankle joints.

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?

The pain associated with Achilles Tendinitis typically begins as a mild ache in the back of the leg or above the heel after running or other sports activity. Episodes of more-severe pain may occur after prolonged running, stair climbing or sprinting.

tenderness over the Achilles tendon – the area may be very tender to touch. In some people there is a painful lump or swelling in the area

 Stiffness – stiffness in the tendon when you get up in the morning or following a sustained period of rest is common. This usually eases after a few minutes of walking in many cases

Variable pain – some people only report a mild ache which eases with exercise. Other people can experience very severe pain which will limit their walking. Often pain will be increased when you go up onto your toes

Diagnosis

Firstly, the physiotherapist will complete a thorough assessment to determine where the problem lies and why the injury is occurring. It may be due to muscle weakness, muscle imbalance, poor biomechanics, or simple due to overuse. In most cases it is a combination of all the above. Then Physiotherapist recommended, bespoke treatment plan will be discussed with you.

Self-Management

Footwear

Wearing supportive footwear with good shock absorbency is important. Using an insert within the shoe or wearing a shoe with a slight raised heel may also help ease pain.


Pain relief

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory gels may be helpful to control the pain and allow you to continue exercising. Discuss this with your GP or Pharmacist.

Some people find ice effective in reducing their pain. Apply an icepack for 15 minutes, two to three times a day. Avoid applying ice directly to your skin, instead use a towel or have a fabric layer in between.


Weight loss

You are more at risk of developing Achilles Tendinopathy if you are overweight. Reducing your weight can also improve symptoms through reducing the stress on your joints, muscles, and tendons.

 
Exercise

Initially avoiding high level activities that aggravate the pain such as hill walking or running may be useful, but you should keep up gentle walking. Research has shown that doing specific exercise can improve your symptoms.

 

Treatment

Specific manual therapy techniques including deep soft tissue massage, deep transverse friction massage and stretches may be used. Other treatments may include Acupuncture, Electrotherapy, and the use of Kinesiology sports tape, Strengthening exercises.

As you improve, your physiotherapist may recommend a programme of rehabilitation exercises in our clinic as well as exercises and stretches to continue independently at home. We will aim to identify the cause of your injury and advise you on prevention in the future.

 
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At Media City Physio we welcome the opportunity to treat you, regardless of your illness, which could be a result of a sport injury, accident at work, or anything else.