Achilles Tendinopathy - Diagnosis & Treatment

David Sprot
on
November 9, 2020

Unfortunately, this is a common problem. You may have woken up with pain in your heel and struggle to do your normal walking or running. Don’t worry, below is some advice which can help reduce pain and return you to normal activities.

What causes it?

Achilles tendinopathy is an overloading problem of your achilles tendon. This is the thick band connecting your calf to your heel. It’s main job is to help you push off onto your toes when walking and running.

This means that at some point, the tendon has most likely had to do more than it can manage. It’s more common in those who are more active, but can happen at any time to anyone.

What does it feel like?

The achilles tendon commonly causes pain in 2 areas. Either the middle of the tendon, or the insertion (where the tendon attaches to your heel bone)

Common symptoms are:

• Pain at the back of your heel

• Tightness in the tendon, especially in the morning

• Pain when going up on your toes

• Tenderness to touch

• Some swelling around the tendon

• Possibly some creaking noises when you move your ankle

How is it diagnosed?

Usually the symptoms are enough to diagnose the problem. An ultrasound scan can be used, but isn’t commonly needed

What can you do about it?

REST

The first thing to do (and most people may not like this) is to REST. Stop doing the activities which aggravate it for a week. This can mean reducing your running or walking, however if cycling or swimming is pain free then these would be ok to do.

SLOW BUILD UP

If your pain settles, gradually begin to build up your activities again over the next week. Try not to do too much too soon or the same problem can come back.

STRENGTHEN

If the pain does not settle at this point, it can be helpful to perform some simple strengthening exercises. An ‘eccentric calf exercise’ involving slowly lowering yourself down from being up on your toes has been shown to help.

There are a number of other things that can be done, including strengthening throughout your foot to help the achilles in its job. If your pain hasn’t settled, come and see our foot and ankle specialist David Sprot who can go through this rehabilitation with you

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