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Achilled Tendonitits | Achilles Pain | Osteopathy Kew

Do you have achilles tendonitis (tendinopathy)?

Achilles tendonitis can be so bad that you wake up in the morning and not be able to walk, or it can just be an annoying niggle low down in your calf. Many weekend warrior and recreational sports-people get trouble in their Achilles but it can happen to those that are less sporty too.  Sometimes it is a quick fix of calf muscle loosening and then some stretching homework to work into your regime.
On other occasions you could have a weakened achilles tendon that requires some dedicated rehabilitation exercises and advice.  These exercises can be really simple and were very effective for me when I had achilles tendonitis!

What is the achilles tendon?

The achilles tendon is the attachment rope that joins your calf muscles (both soleus & gastrocnemius) to your heel bone. It is an extremely strong tendon and been known to feel like someone whacked you in the back of the leg when they rupture (full break). But we are not even talking about rupture here, tendonitis is completely different.

The achilles tendon is actually the largest tendon in the body is aids the heel being drawn off the floor by lifting the heel.

Achilles tendinopathy occurs in varying degrees:

Achilles tendinopathy severity has a grading system.

  • mild – painful Achilles tendon during a specific activity (ie. running, jumping) or closely after
  • moderate – may have swelling of the Achilles tendon & could have a hard lump (nodule) form in the tendon
  • severe – any type of activity that involves weight-bearing causes pain of the Achilles tendon. Very occasionally, the Achilles tendon may rupture (a full thickness tear). As stated earlier, when an Achilles tendon ruptures, it is said to feel like a hard hit on the heel itself.

Causes of excessive loading on the achilles, include:

  • A sudden increase in the intensity, frequency and duration of activity.
  •  A decrease in recovery time between activity.
  • Wearing inadequate or incorrect footwear.
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces.
  • Change of surface (seasonal).
  • Poor muscle flexibility (e.g. tight calf muscles, weak calf muscles).
  • Decreased joint range of motion (e.g. stiff ankle joint).
  • Inadequate warm-up, & cool down.

Signs & Symptoms of achilles tendonitis:

  • Mild to severe pain and tenderness in the Achilles tendon area (tenderness may be more noticeable in the morning).
  • Swelling.
  • Stiffness that may diminish as the tendon warms up with use.
  • Decreased strength and movement; a feeling of sluggishness in the leg.

Treatment for achilles tendonitis

First we need to evaluate what category of severity your case is to then form an appropriate treatment plan. Our work also includes working out why your pain developed in the first place.  Not only will we physically treat the cause of the pain with our manual therapy skills and often therapeutic ultrasound, we also workl on  exercises to reduce recurrence and build strength back into the tendon to make it less vulnerable in future.

It is important to work out why your achilles tendon is feeling and experiencing such great amounts of load.  Why is it being put under so much strain.  What is not moving in your body that is requiring your achilles tendon to do so much work.  This is our job, to figure these questions out.

How to prevent achilles tendonitis happening again?

Rehabilitation exercises to safely load the tendon were extremely effective for my achilles tendonitis and in fact after all the rest, icing, heat, medication, eccentric re-loading (as it’s called) was the only thing that actually took the pain away for good.

It is also important to look at the angle your achilles is sitting in, by looking closely at the position of your heel bone when standing. Does it roll in or out? Does your foot arch stand in neutral or are there some strain patterns through the foot. These are what we will look for in your consultation to piece together your case.

NOTE:

7-16 year olds with heel pain may be caused by a self-limiting, painful but non-serious problem called Sever’s Disease.  We also treat this condition and give you management advice to reduce the symptoms. Check out our blog on Sever’s.

If you are having issues with your achilles tendon, we would love to work it out with you.

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