Australian Walking Clinic

Achilles Tendonitis

What is it?

Achilles Tendinopathy is a painful and often debilitating condition caused by over stressing the Achilles tendon. The injury may occur at the point where the tendon attaches to the heel or at any point along the length of the tendon. Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy may include pain and tenderness in the affected area, along with decreased strength and movement in the lower leg, swelling and redness. Achilles Tendinopathy is caused by overuse and is most often seen in people who have engaged in a sudden increase in activity.

The Achilles tendon is an extension of the two calf muscles; it runs down the back of the lower leg and attaches to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon connects the strong leg muscles to the foot and gives us the ability to rise up on our toes, facilitating walking and running. The Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply so it can be slow to heal.

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Because the arch of the foot flattens over time, especially in athletes, someone may be problem-free for years and develop Achilles problems later in life. In these people, the muscles and tendon have little flexibility because of inactivity. It is especially important for people who are just starting to exercise to stretch properly, start slowly and increase gradually. Correct technique is also essential to minimise overload. Achilles tendinosis weakens the tendon and may make the tendon more vulnerable to tear or rupture. The risk for re-rupture increases if the condition is not treated. It can require weeks to months of rest and appropriate structural control for the tendon to slowly repair itself. If you look after this injury early enough you should make a good recovery. It is important you rehabilitate the tendon properly after it has recovered or the injury will return. If you ignore the early warning signs and do not look after this injury then it may become chronic which is very difficult to treat.

How can it be treated?

Treatment involves initial rest and inflammatory control.

Seek professional podiatrist treatment for:

  • Strapping to support and unload the stressed area.
  • Resolution of muscular inflexibility through massage and specific exercises.
  • Ultrasound to improve blood flow and healing.
  • Control of improper foot mechanics

WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist.