Achilles Tendonitis

What is Achilles Tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon (the large tendon that connects your calf muscles to the heel bone at the back of your foot and ankle). The term tendonitis refers to the inflammation of the tendon.

There are 2 types of Achilles Tendonitis which affect different areas of the tendon:

  • Insertional (which affects the point where the Achilles Tendon attaches to the heel bone)
  • Non-insertional (which affects the soft upper, mid-portion of the Achilles Tendon)

 

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendonitis?

  • Pain in the back of the heel when walking or running
  • Pain along the length of the tendon when walking or running
  • Pain and stiffness first thing in the morning
  • Pain from pressure (when touched or moved)
  • Swelling, redness and heat in the back of the heel or along the tendon
  • Difficulty standing up on your tiptoes
  • Difficulty moving the affected foot and ankle
  • A grating or crackling sensation when you move the affected joint

Achilles tendonitis treatments

There are various steps you can take to manage Achilles tendonitis, such as:

Do

 Rest and elevate your heel when possible.

  • Consider adjusting your usual routine of activities and sports in the long term to reduce the risk of the injury recurring.
  •  Reduce inflammation by applying an ice pack (wrapped within a towel) over the heel and tendon for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
  • Use a foot rest or similar item of furniture to keep your feet in a comfortable position when sitting for long periods.
  • Wear supportive footwear that has a slight heel, such as a running style trainer with plenty of cushioning and a soft heel counter (the back of the shoe that sits against the back of your heel).
  •  Support your feet further by wearing supportive insoles/orthotics that can help to distribute pressure evenly across the foot, such as the ZeroSole Contour range.
  • Stretch your calf muscles and strengthen the Achilles tendon: such as holding a lunge stretch (minimum hold of 30 seconds) and performing slow and controlled calf raises. This can also be done on the edge of a step or bottom stair to stretch the Achilles tendon, by dipping your heels downwards when you lower your heels. Repeat these exercises 2 to 3 times a day.
  • Use painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce overall pain (consult your healthcare practitioner or ask your GP first before taking medication).

 

Don’t X

  •  Do not continue high impact activities until you have fully recovered – try swimming or cycling (low impact activities) instead.
  •  Do not walk barefoot or continue wearing inadequate footwear e.g., very flat and overly flexible shoes.

What causes Achilles Tendonitis?

Multiple factors may contribute to Achilles tendonitis:

  • Overuse injuries from sports or increased physical activity
  • Age causing degenerative wear of the tendon
  •  Poor footwear – such as those with a lack of support and cushioning
  • Foot posture or altered mechanics (the structure of your foot and how it functions) – such as if you have very flat or a highly arched foot type, or tight calf muscles
  • Holding your foot in an unnatural position for prolonged periods – for instance, as a result of improper foot support at your desk at work

 

 Consult with your GP or podiatrist if you continue to experience Achilles tendon pain or inflammation after following the above steps, or if your pain is severe enough to prevent you from getting on with your regular everyday activities as normal.

Achilles Rupture

There is a chance you have ruptured your Achilles tendon if:

  • You have developed Achilles tendon pain after an acute injury (which may or may not have been accompanied by a sudden ‘popping’ sound).
  • You have difficulty walking or have reduced power in your ankle.


If left untreated, a ruptured Achilles tendon may cause significant long-term pain or disability. Therefore, if you experience any of these signs it is important that you attend your local minor injuries unit or A&E department as soon as possible to ensure you receive the appropriate treatment.

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