What is the Achilles tendon?
The Achilles tendon attaches the gastrocnemius, plantaris and soleus muscles (calf muscle complex) to your heel. During gait and activities the Achilles tendon assists in plantarflexion (downward motion) of the foot at the ankle.
What is Achilles tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy is relatively common in athletic people, but can also affect inactive people. Contrary to popular beliefs, Achilles tendinopathy does not involve inflammation, but rather disorganisation and degeneration of the tendon due to a failed healing response.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy include pain, stiffness and swelling (due to water in the tendon rather than inflammation). If you are a runner, you may notice pain at the start of your run that goes away as you continue, but then returns. Rest may help resolve pain and swelling during the early stages of Achilles tendinopathy, but during later stages, the pain may be present at all times. If left untreated, Achilles tendinopathy may become chronic due to degeneration of the tendon itself.
What causes Achilles Tendinopathy?
There are many possible causes and it depends on the individual. It may be caused by one or more of the following:
• Overuse. This is probably the most common cause for those who run or play sports.
• Training Issues: Incorrect footwear, changes to your activity (increasing or dramatically changing your program), running on hard or sloped surfaces, or running style.
• Muscle inflexibility (tight and/or weak calf muscles)
• Excessive pronation or supination: when the foot pronates or supinates excessively the tensile force on the Achilles tendon increases.
• Partial tear caused by the tendon being either momentarily or repeatedly overloaded
• Falling or tripping
It is essential that you are diagnosed correctly. If you do in fact have Achilles tendinopathy, we will put together a treatment program that balances best practices based upon current research with your individual risk factors and circumstances. Depending on where your Achilles tendinopathy is (insertional or mid-portion), an individualised treatment program will be formulated. Langmore Podiatry offers advanced treatments including ESWT (extracorporeal shock-wave therapy), which—if suitable—is supported by high quality research studies and has been effective with many patients at Langmore Podiatry.