The Achilles Tendon connects the muscles of the lower leg to the ankle. The Achilles Tendon is the thickest tendon in the body and is involved in movements of the foot, which enable us to walk, run and jump. Achilles Tendinopathy may refer to inflammation of the Achilles tendon (tendonitis) or degeneration/micro-tears in the collagen fibres of the tendon (tendinosis). Both result in pain in the heel and require treatment and management.

Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy

Symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy are felt in the heel and may often be worse after inactivity/rest, such as during the night, or upon waking in the morning. Symptoms include:

  • Burning pain in the heel and lower calf
  • Loss of strength in the area
  • Pain and stiffness that may subside upon movement, but returns after activity
  • Heat and swelling of the area
  • Crepitus/creaking or crunchy sensation upon movement

Causes of Achilles Tendinopathy

Achilles Tendinopathy is typically an overuse injury. Below is a list of some common factors that contribute to excessive strain on the Achilles tendon:

  • Over-training or sudden increase in use.
  • Change to training surface (i.e. bitumen to grass)
  • Blow to the heel
  • Poor alignment of the lower limb, including flat feet or high arches
  • Tight hamstrings and calf muscles/inadequate stretching
  • Regular use of high heels/ walking on tip toes
  • Unsupportive footwear
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotics

Treatment and management

Your osteopath can perform an examination to properly diagnose the condition and identify the cause. They may also recommend or apply:

  • Osteopathic treatment of leg muscles that may be contributing to the problem
  • Rehabilitation exercises
  • Reduction of the load on the Achilles tendon using a heel lift or orthotics
  • Training modifications and preventative stretches
  • Reducing inflammation with medications or ice.

What to avoid

  • Do not apply heat or heat creams to the affected area
  • Do not apply pressure or self-massage to the area
  • Do not self-prescribe massage, stretches or exercises

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