Achilles Tendinopathy – Contributing Factors and Treatment Options
If you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard about achilles tendinopathy before. This is one of the most common foot injuries seen by physios, and it is characterised by sharp pain at the back of the heel where the achilles tendon is located. The term achilles tendonitis used to be commonplace, but it is now more commonly referred to as achilles tendinopathy. The reason for this is because the suffix itis actually means there is inflammation, but most of the time, there actually is no inflammation present.
Achilles injuries are never pleasant, and they can keep you from the activities you love. The good news is that they can be appropriately managed with your physios help. In this blog post, Brunswick Heads Physio will fill you in on everything you need to know about achilles injuries.
What causes achilles injuries?
Achilles tendinopathies are usually caused by an acute increase in load, such as when you start a new running program. The achilles tendon is located at the back of the leg, and it connects your calf muscle to the heel bone. It’s one of the strongest tendons in your body, but this does not mean it is immune to pain. If you suddenly add higher loads to your achilles, such as more running and jumping without balancing this with adequate recovery, the tendon can become sore.
The condition is most common amongst runners, but it can occur in anyone. There are also other contributing factors, which include:
- High blood pressure
- Type II diabetes
- Prolonged corticosteroid use
- Weak calf and leg muscles
- Rapid change in load (new exercise program, or coming back after a lay-off)
- Use of flouroquinolone antibiotics
Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy
Whilst it might seem as though symptoms arise out of the blue, in almost all cases it is a result of a recent change in load to the achilles. Pain will often present first thing in the morning or during the beginning of exercise, but tends to feel like it warms-up as you continue to move. As you exercise further, the achilles can start to get sore again, and most often feels worse as you cool down.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your physio:
- Persistent pain or stiffness
- Difficulty walking/running accompanied by pain
- Pain which occurs throughout the night
- Pain occurring when you first wake up in the morning
How Are Achilles Injuries Treated?
In the first instance, we recommend adjusting the activities that caused the pain in the first place. Often just a small reduction, vs completely stopping can help the tendon recover. It is important to note that inflammation, often seen as an evil thing, is actually your body’s way of healing tissue. Because of this, anti-inflammatories are often only necessary in extreme cases as they may actually affect long term healing.
The above is just a first step to full recovery. If you’re keen to return to your regular routine and regain full function, you should schedule an appointment with Brunswick Heads Physio at your earliest convenience. Our sports physios will examine your condition, tailor a treatment plan, and help you return to your everyday routine in the quickest and safest way.
We may use the following treatments in your recovery plan:
- Temporary taping
- Personalised exercise plans designed to support recovery
- Muscle strengthening focusing on the calves
- Stretching and flexibility exercises
- Analysis of your training regime
Suffering from Achilles Injury? Brunswick Heads Physio is Here to Help
Achilles injuries are a common occurrence, and the team at Brunswick Heads Physio would love to help you on a path towards recovery. Seeking professional consultation early will help to minimize damage, eliminate pain, and get you back to your normal routine faster.
Contact us today on 0419 629 333 – we look forward to hearing from you.