Achilles Tendinopathy – Contributing Factors and Treatment Options

12/03/2020

If you’re a runner, you’ve probably heard about achilles tendonitis 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 overuse injuries are now more commonly referred to as Achilles Tendinopathy, which covers both micro tears and inflammation of the tendon. 

Achilles injuries are never pleasant, and they can put you out of action for some time if they aren’t managed by an experienced physio. In this blog post, Brunswick Heads Physio will fill you in on everything you need to know about achilles injuries.

What causes achilles injury?

Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury. 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 stress and injury. If you regularly push yourself to the limits and fail to give your achilles time to heal, micro tearing will occur. Over time this will lead to severe pain and inflammation, as these tears will start to weaken the tendon. 

The condition is most common amongst runners, but it can occur in anyone. There are also other contributing factors, which include:

 

  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes
  • Wearing shoes which are not supportive
  • Having flat (over-pronated) feet
  • Regularly training on hard surfaces such as concrete/asphalt
  • Regularly wearing high heels
  • Exercising without warming up

 

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 cumulative micro-tearing. Pain will generally present with a ‘burning’ sensation, particularly as you are commencing physical activity. This pain may start to subside as you warm up, but it usually returns as you start to cool down. It’s also common to feel stiffness when you first get up in the morning. 

If you notice the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your physio:

 

  • Persistent pain or stiffness
  • Difficulty walking/running accompanied by pain and/or inflammation
  • Pain which occurs randomly throughout the night
  • Pain occurring when you first wake up in the morning
  • Tenderness when gently pressing around the achilles region

 

How Are Achilles Injuries Treated?

In the first instance, we recommend you apply the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). This will provide some pain relief and help to ease inflammation. Favour rest and try to avoid walking or other weight-bearing activities as much as possible. 

The above is only an initial treatment and by no means will it allow for full recovery. If you aim 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 are 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 into your normal routine faster. 

Contact us today on 0419 629 333 – we look forward to hearing from you.