Persistent Ankle Pain? It Could Be Achilles Tendinothapy
Posted on 22nd September 2022
To clear up any confusion, this is not a blog about a notorious Greek demigod; rather, we're discussing the thick, rough tissue that sits behind your ankle.
What is Achilles tendinopathy?
The big tendon of your ankle leads up into your soleus (or calf) muscle, connecting the muscle to the body, and is located at the base of your heel. Why then is it called tendinopathy rather than just tendonitis? Well, it's because doctors now have a better grasp of how the human body responds to stress and trauma.
This condition, known as "Achilles tendinopathy" rather than the more outdated "tendonitis," is caused by repetitive stress on the tendon without inflammation. This is similar to several tendon ailments, including tennis elbow and golfer's elbow. Alternatively, tendinitis is the inflammation and irritation that generates a deep, lingering pain that restricts easy, comfortable movements.
What causes Achilles tendinothapy?
Like most things, with injuries, there are several varied causes of Achilles tendinopathy. The more typical tendinopathies are often associated with long-term overuse causing the deterioration within the tendon, without it looking inflamed. Causes can come about both in and out of the sporting world. Some of the causes of Achilles tendonitis include:
This occurs when the Achilles tendon is stressed until it develops small tears and degeneration. Runners seem to be the most susceptible. People who play sports that involve jumping, such as basketball, are also at increased risk.
Achilles tendonitis can be a part of generalised inflammatory arthritis, such as ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. In these conditions, both tendons can be affected.
Some people with flat feet or hyper-pronated feet (feet that turn inward while walking) are prone to Achilles tendonitis. The flattened arch pulls on calf muscles and keeps the Achilles tendon under tight strain. This constant mechanical stress on the heel and tendon can cause inflammation, pain and swelling of the tendon.
Wearing shoes with minimal support while walking or running can increase the risk, as can wearing high heels.
Being overweight and obese
Being overweight places more strain on many parts of the body, including the Achilles tendon.
Can in some instances be associated with Achilles tendinopathy or Achilles tendon rupture (tear) soon after exposure to the medication.
What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?
There are a few symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy:
pain in the back of the heel.
difficulty walking – sometimes the pain makes walking impossible.
swelling, tenderness and warmth of the Achilles tendon.
Achilles tendinopathy is graded according to how severe it is:
pain in the Achilles tendon during a particular activity (such as running) or shortly after.
the Achilles tendon may swell. In some cases, a hard lump (nodule) may form in the tendon.
any type of activity that involves weight-bearing causes pain of the Achilles tendon.
Very occasionally, the Achilles tendon may rupture (tear). When an Achilles tendon ruptures, it is said to feel like a hard whack on the heel.
Treatment of Achilles tendinopathy
The first and important point to make about the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy is that it gets harder to treat the longer you leave it. This then affects the type of treatment you require. Don’t leave it too long!
Generally, if the injury isn’t too severe you should see an improvement after three months. For the treatment of Achilles tendinopathy, there are three different stages of treatment that you could potentially go through depending on the severity of the condition: medicines, physical therapies, and surgery.
Paracetamol and ibuprofen are good sources of pain relief and anti-inflammatories, as they are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Please consult with a doctor before taking anything. These are normally advised by your therapist when you start the rehabilitation process to be used alongside massage.
These are your best course of action to treat Achilles tendinopathy. Massage will help to ease the tightness of the muscles. Stretches and exercises will strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles to repair the damage caused. This will reverse and ease the problem and pain.
The worst-case scenario requires surgery and will potentially be needed to improve the tendon if the physical therapies don’t work after an intense period of trying.
Exercises to help
If you have Achilles tendinopathy, your therapist might recommend specific exercises to help you recover. Heel raises are by far the most popular kind of exercise.
Starting with gentle heel raises and lowers will help strengthen and eccentrically load the tendon. The surrounding muscles and the tendon are both strengthened by this process.
Biomechanical movement abnormalities, such as an abnormal gait, will be addressed first to alleviate and correct the strain on the tendon (gate).
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