Achilles tendinopathy is a common condition that affects the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is a type of overuse injury that often occurs in athletes or individuals who engage in repetitive activities that place strain on the Achilles tendon. As podiatrists, we have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating Achilles tendinopathy. Here’s what you need to know about this condition:
The symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy typically include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the Achilles tendon. The pain may be mild at first and gradually worsen over time, especially with activity or after prolonged periods of rest. In some cases, a palpable lump or nodule may be present in the tendon.
Achilles tendinopathy is usually caused by overuse or repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon. This can be due to a variety of factors, including:
Intense physical activity, such as running or jumping, that places excessive stress on the Achilles tendon
Sudden increase in training intensity or duration
Poor biomechanics or foot alignment
Inadequate warm-up or stretching before activity
Age-related degeneration of the tendon
Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes, may also increase the risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy.
The treatment options for Achilles tendinopathy depend on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, conservative treatments such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), and physical therapy may be effective. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also be recommended to help reduce pain and inflammation.
In more severe cases, more aggressive treatments may be necessary, including:
Orthotic therapy the address the individual biomechanical causes.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT): A non-invasive treatment that uses shockwaves to promote healing in the affected area.
Immobilisation using moon boots or air casts to prevent further injury to the region and facilitate healing.
Surgery: In rare cases where conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove damaged tissue.
To reduce the risk of developing Achilles tendinopathy, it is important to:
Gradually increase training intensity and duration
Stretch and warm up properly before activity
Wear appropriate footwear with proper arch support
Seek prompt treatment for any foot or ankle pain