What is Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles Tendinopathy is a general term used to describe the combination of pain, swelling and decreased performance of the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is largest and strongest tendon in the body. It is also subjected to substantial force through regular walking, jogging, running and jumping. This makes this tendon susceptible to overuse injuries. The chance of developing Achilles tendinopathy is higher in athletes, those who train regularly or do a lot of exercise. It can be a particular problem for some runners.
Signs and Symptoms
Typical signs and symptoms of Achilles related conditions are pain, stiffness, tenderness, impaired performance and in some cases notable swelling. Pain and stiffness tend to develop gradually and are usually worse when you first wake up in the morning. Some people experience pain during exercise, but, in general, pain is worse after exercise. There have been several studies over the past few years dedicated to determining a more specific cause to Achilles tendinopathy and the most effective treatments for rehabilitation. Several key risk factors of Achilles tendinopathy are:
- Biomechanical/Gait abnormalities
- Limited range of motion; lateral ankle instability
- Inappropriate footwear
- Age, gender, body weight, changes in activity/work levels
If you are experiencing Achilles tendon related pain, we offer full biomechanical and gait assessments with our chiropodist, podiatrist and pedorthists. If you do have problems with one Achilles tendon, there is also an increased chance that you will develop problems with the other over time. Having a full exam will allow us to determine the best treatment protocols to alleviate your Achilles pain. Typical treatments may include:
- Rest, ice, modified activity
- Custom orthotics
- Footwear evaluation
- Exercise and stretching protocol
- Massage therapy
- Shockwave therapy
Early detection, recognition and treatment of Achilles tendinopathies greatly increases the chance of successful rehabilitation methods. There is a risk of tearing (rupturing) the Achilles tendon if you have Achilles tendinopathy. This is because the tendon is damaged and weaker than usual. However, this risk is usually quite low. Severe pain around the Achilles tendon that develops suddenly may be a sign of tendon rupture. See a doctor urgently if you think that you may have ruptured your Achilles tendon.