Achilles tendinopathy is a common condition involving the thickening and degeneration of your Achilles tendon. It is one of the most common running-related musculoskeletal injury among athletes and is often due to overuse.
What is Achilles Tendinopathy and how does it feel?
The Achilles tendon is the LARGEST tendon in our body, connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone. It plays a role in most weightbearing activities, such as walking, running and jumping. While the tendon is capable of withstanding large amounts of stress, it is also prone to injury and degeneration which will result in inflammation of the tendon.
It may feel different to each individual, but common reported symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include:
- Pain at the back of the heel and along the Achilles tendon
- Stiffness at the Achilles tendon area
- Swelling and tenderness at the back of the heel
- Pain worsening after physical activity and exercise
More importantly, why does it happen?
Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse condition, and may be caused by various factors including:
- Change in workout regime and intensity of run (i.e. from running on flat surfaces to hill running)
- Change in running surfaces (i.e. from running on grass to concrete)
- Having a collpased arch - increases stress on Achilles tendon
- Tight or weak muscles along the lower limbs, including calf and hamstring muscles
What can we do to help?
Here at The Foot Clinic, we will always provide a clear diagnosis and an overview of the treatment options available for your condition.
To do this, you may need a full biomechanical assessment. This will include the assessments of the range of motion of your lower limb joints, including your hips, knees, ankles and feet. Your Podiatrist will also assess your posture and perform a thorough gait analysis.
Our team of Podiatrists will then tailor a treatment plan based on your individual needs because we understand that everyone is unique! The treatment plan may include:
1. Strengthening and stretching exercises: Individualised strengthening programs may be assigned via our online exercise platform, Physitrack. It is important to stretch and strengthen the muscles in our lower limbs to improve recovery and prevent any future flare-ups.
2. Medications: Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation at the Achilles tendon.
3. Low Level Laser Therapy: The Thor Laser Therapy utilises infared light to reduce inflammation and stimulate healing process at a cellular level.
4. Shockwave Therapy: Shockwave therapy re-initiates the healing process by applying high-energy soundwaves to non-healing tissue, disrupting the long-standing nature of the injury.
5. Orthotics: Custom orthotic devices will provide the support needed to optimise your foot's position and reduce excessive stress on other lower limb areas, allowing you to function efficiently.