Achilles tendinopathy refers to the degeneration within the large tendon which joins the calf muscles to the heel bone. It is seen most commonly in the mid‐portion of the tendon, but also occurs at the bone–tendon junction. This can occur as the Achilles tendon does not have a rich blood supply and can be found to be weakest at a point between two and six centimetres above its insertion to the calcaneus. This poor vascularity can prevent adequate tissue repair following trauma and may lead to further weakening of the tendon.
Achilles tendinopathy can be either acute or chronic. Acute tendinopathy is usually more painful and of recent onset whereas chronic injuries will have come on gradually and over weeks or may follow an acute injury that is not treated properly. Factors which may contribute to Achilles tendinopathy include a recent change in training (including frequency, duration, intensity and training surfaces), reduced rest times, biomechanical abnormalities, poor footwear and decreased muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. These factors can lead to increased stress on the Achilles tendon and potential micro tears.
It is relatively common in recreational exercisers and individuals active in sports that involve jumping and running. Signs and symptoms can include pain and tenderness along the Achilles tendon, tightness and swelling and thickening of the tendon may be observed.
Achilles tendinopathy generally does not settle without assessment and medical care. If you have or suspect you have Achilles tendinopathy, you should consult with your podiatrist. Treatment options can include:
Rest from provocative activities
Icing the area
Stretching and strengthening exercises of the calf muscles
Massage and soft tissue therapy
Injection therapy including platelet rich plasma
Your podiatrist will then be able to complete a full biomechanical assessment and assess potential factors contributing to your symptoms and be able to tailor a treatment option specifically for you.
If you feel you may be suffering from Achilles tendinopathy or have any other concerns regarding the lower limb do not hesitate to contact the clinic.