What is Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy, also known as Achilles tendonitis, covers all disorders of the Achilles, which can manifest in many ways, in all portions of the Achilles. It is a condition that involves inflammation, degeneration, and pain in the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon is the thick band of tissue that connects the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus), and plays a crucial role in enabling movement.
What causes Achilles Tendinopathy?
Achilles tendinopathy is a common overuse injury, often seen in athletes and individuals involved in activities that require repetitive movements of the foot and ankle. It can occur as a result of excessive stress and strain on the Achilles tendon, which causes microtears and inflammation in the tendon fibers.
The two main types of Achilles tendinopathy are:
Non-insertional Achilles tendinopathy: Occurs in the middle portion of the Achilles tendon where tissue begins to break down and tear. More common in younger, active individuals and is typically associated with overuse or excessive training.
Insertional Achilles tendinopathy: Involves inflammation and degeneration at the point where the Achilles tendon attaches to the heel bone. Occurs in individuals of all ages and can be associated with bone spurs.
Achilles Tendinopathy symptoms:
- Pain, discomfort and tenderness along the back of the ankle, just above the heel
- Stiffness and limited ankle movement, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity
- Pain that worsens with activity (though not always the case)
- Swelling around the Achilles tendon
Achilles Tendinopathy treatments:
- REST: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
- Ice application to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief
- Calf strengthening stretches and exercises
- Custom Orthotics
Invasive and treatments required for severe cases:
- Corticosteroid injections
- Shockwave therapy