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The Achilles Tendon

Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is a common injury thought to involve microtears that weaken the tendon, most likely due to a change in load.

What is the achilles?

The achilles tendon can be found at the back of the ankle. The tendon sits between the calf muscle and the heel bone (calcaneus). Under the achilles are small fluid-filled sacs called bursa which provide cushioning around the back of the ankle.

The achilles allows us to push up on our toes when walking, running, jumping or rising up on to our toes. Due to the large forces placed on the achilles tendon during these activities, it can be prone to injury. Tendinopathy occurs when there is a change in load on the tendon such as a sudden increase/decrease in the intensity or frequency of activity. Commonly we see this occur in those who have suddenly increased their training loads, or started exercising vigorously after a period of inactivity. Other contributing factors include;

  • poor footwear
  • poor foot mechanics
  • running on poor/hard/uneven surfaces
  • weak or tight calf muscles
  • ankle stiffness
  • steroid use

Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness in the achilles tendon
  • Thickening of the tendon
  • Stiffness in the tendon, especially in the morning that improves through the day

Treatment

Treatment involves a gradual process of re-loading the tendon to allow it to tolerate load again. This can be done via a stringent physiotherapy based exercise program, and a gradual return to exercise. Physiotherapy can also assist with symptomatic relief, reducing calf tightness, assisting with altering foot mechanics or running technique. With the correct treatment and rehabilitation regime, achilles tendinopathy can usually settle conservatively, although this can often take months.

If you think you may have achilles pain, achilles tendinopathy or heel pain, don’t delay treatment. Our physiotherapists can assess your injury to determine the best course of management for this painful condition and get you on track to recovery. Call Seville Health today (03) 5964 2393.