What is a Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy is a common condition that results in pain in the Achilles tendon, which is the tendon that attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone. Achilles tendinopathy is caused by excess strain or load on the Achilles tendon. This can occur from an acute injury or an overuse (chronic) injury.

Once commonly known as Achilles tendonitis it is now mostly referred to as Achilles tendinopathy because research has found that it is most likely due to tendon fibre micro tears and degeneration rather than inflammation.

Sports that involve repetitive running and jumping are more prone to Achilles tendinopathy and it is estimated that it accounts for 11% of all running injuries.

Do you suffer from Achilles tendinopathy?

Signs & symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy

The following signs or symptoms may indicate Achilles tendinopathy:

  • Pain present in the mid-portion of the Achilles tendon (approximately 5cm from the heel insertion)
  • Pain present close to the Achilles tendon’s insertion into the heel
  • Stiffness in the tendon especially in the morning or after rest
  • Pain can either be present before, after or during activity depending on severity
  • There may be associated swelling
  • In chronic cases you may feel lumps within the tendon
Achilles tendinopathy treatment Camberwell

Causes of Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is caused by excess strain on the Achilles tendon. Factors that can increase load and strain on the Achilles tendon include:

  • Poor foot mechanics or excess foot pronation
  • Tight or weak calf muscles
  • Poor ankle joint flexion
  • Increase in training or loads
  • Inadequate warm up or stretching before sport
  • Activities involving running, jumping, hopping or sudden changes of direction
  • Poor footwear

Achilles tendinopathy occurs when there is too much strain on the tendon, resulting in small micro tears within the tendon fibers.

Achilles tendinosis occurs when there is repeated micro trauma or degeneration to the tendon. It results in scar tissue build up within the tendon due to the chronic torn fibers. This can often be felt as a lump within the tendon.

Achilles tendon rupture occurs when there is complete or partial tear. This can be the result of an acute incident such as a sudden pivot, jump or acceleration or degeneration of the tendon. An Achilles tendon rupture results in a sharp onset of pain with significant swelling making weight bearing difficult. Athletes may even hear the tendon snap. Surgery if often required for complete Achilles tendon ruptures.

Achilles tendinopathy diagnosis

Achilles tendinopathy is easily diagnosed clinically by our Melbourne sports podiatrists, who are experts in identifying sports injuries of the foot and ankle. In some cases referral for an ultrasound scan of the Achilles tendon may be required to check for tears and other issues as this can alter the course of treatment.

Podiatry treatment for Achilles tendinopathy

The sports podiatrists at Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics are experts in Achilles tendinopathy treatment for all athletes. Treatment options at our Melbourne foot clinic may include:

  • Strapping
  • Ultrasound or laser therapy
  • Stretching and strengthening
  • Footwear advice
  • Orthotics

Treatment is firstly aimed at reducing strain on the tendon to reduce symptoms and followed by a focus on progressive exercises to stretch and strengthen the Achilles. Addressing the cause of Achilles tendinopathy is often the key to success and helps prevent a reoccurrence.

Poor foot mechanics and excess foot pronation are often causative factors that get overlooked as this places more strain on the Achilles tendon when the foot rolls in. Our Melbourne podiatrists can use computer gait analysis to check your feet and gait to see if they may be causative factor in your Achilles tendon injury.

Early diagnosis and treatment with a sports podiatrist can help treat Achilles tendinopathy and prevent it becoming a chronic condition.

Call us Melbourne Podiatrist

Do you suffer from a painful Achilles tendon?

At our Melbourne foot clinic our sports podiatrists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of sports conditions affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. This includes Achilles tendinopathy treatment.

So if you are suffering from a painful Achilles tendon, don’t let the issue become chronic,  book an appointment with one of our friendly sports podiatrists today!