Achilles tendonitis implies short term irritation and inflammation to the Achilles heel. The Achilles heel is technically called the calcaneal tendon. Achilles tendonitis means a lot of different things to a lot of different people so the preferred term is Achilles tendinopathy. Achilles tendinopathy simply means there is a problems with the Achilles tendon. Achilles tendinitis can be an extremely frustrating condition and the simple reason for this is that the Achilles tendon heals very slowly when compared to other tissues. Treatments are typically slower progressing than other injuries and when this occurs in athletes during the season care must to taken to ensure adequate management is sort so the injury and the athlete don’t suffer through the season.
Causes of Achilles tendinitis
An Achilles tendonitis injury is commonly causes due to overuse and doing too much exercise too quickly. Other factors that can cause this injury is unsuitable footwear, soft training surfaces, running uphill, tight muscles and foot biomechanics. Like all tendon injuries, in the vast majority of cases of Achilles tendinitis the underlying cause is change. Tendons hate change, change comes in most instances from changes in training load, changes in the type of training load, rapid weight gain, or changes of a similar nature.
Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis
Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis involve pain and stiffness at the back of the ankle. This pain is often gradual and worse in the morning. This pain typically ‘wears off’ as you take a few steps or continue to get on with your day. When athletes start to develop achilles tendinitis (tendinopathy) the symptoms may not be so cut and dry and certain high load activities such as jumping and running may produce symptoms that resolve after activity. All tendon problems should be assessed by a sports orientated practitioner or a chiropractor or physiotherapist with specific knowledge and training in tendon injuries.
Tendon problems are diagnosed clinically. A clinical diagnosis means that a chiropractor or physiotherapist will look at your tendon, conduct assessments and tests and tell you if your tendon is the problem. While imaging such as MRI, ultrasound, and CT Scan are important, they are less important when it comes to Achilles tendon problems. With this said, sometimes to gain further understanding about your tendon one of our Balmain or Dee Why chiropractors of physiotherapists will recommend that you seek an MRI or ultrasound to determine the severity of the injury for diagnosis and perhaps more importantly prognosis and recovery prediction.
Treatment of Achilles tendinitis
In the early acute phase, there are various treatment options recommended, including:
- Applying P.R.I.C.E (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation) to reduce pain and inflammation
- Apply a cold pack to the area every hour for 10 minutes then reduce this to 2 – 3 time a day as required
- Specific heating protocols
- Taping the area by using simple taping techniques
- Soft massage around the Achilles tendon and more aggressively on the calf muscles
- Calf stretching exercises in some cases
- Anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by a general practitioner
- Electrotherapy, such as an ultrasound to help reduce inflammation
- Wearing an orthotic insole or heel lift or pad inside your shoes to reduce strain on the tendon.
The most important treatment for both Achilles tendinitis and Achilles tendinopathy is a progressive loading program. One of our Balmain and Dee Why chiropractors or physiotherapists will give you this loading program and it will help reduce pain and sensitivities around the injured tendon, improve the tendons ability to absorb and distribute weight and load, and improve the structural properties of the tendon so it is able become less likely to be injuries. We call this increasing a tendons durability.
Passionate about Achilles tendon problems
At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) we strive for excellence when its comes to the diagnosis and treatment of Achilles tendinitis. Our Balmain and Dee Why chiropractors and physiotherapists are here to help you with a range of knee and leg conditions, explore these links below.
- Knee and leg pain overview
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL) Injury
- Medial meniscus tear
- Anterior cruciate ligament tear
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Jumpers knee
- Osgood Schlatters disease
- Patellofemoral pain syndrome
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL) injury
- Shin splints
- Calf strain
- Peroneal tendinitis