Achilles tendonitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles pain refers to any pain in and around the Achilles tendon and where it inserts into the back of your heel, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body.

The most common type of Achilles pain is called Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendonitis is the aggravation and inflammation of the Achilles tendon. With repeated stress or trauma, this can progress to degeneration and even tearing of the Achilles tendon.

The pain is usually described as burning, shooting or stabbing at the back of the heel and can vary in its severity. Often, these symptoms are worst in the first few steps of walking after getting up in the morning or after sitting down for extended periods of time. These generally get better with movement.

In severe cases, you may have difficulty walking or walk with a limp. In acute cases, redness, swelling, warmth and tenderness can also occur.

In chronic, and untreated cases, a bony nodule can form and thickening of the Achilles tendon will occur. This in turn weakens the structure, making it more susceptible to rupture.

What causes Achilles pain?

Achilles tendonitis can be caused by poor foot posture, e.g. the foot rolling in (pronated/flat feet) or rolling out (supinated/ high-arched feet). This abnormal foot position leads to increased stress on the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.

Other causes include poor footwear, increased activity, overexertion and repeated impact such as running and jumping. This is frequently seen in sports including basketball, football, soccer, netball, rugby, tennis, hockey and athletics.

How can I treat Achilles pain?

To lower your risk of Achilles tendonitis, try to:

  • Rest
  • Heat and elevation
  • Laser acupuncture
  • Dry needling
  • Kinesio and rigid taping
  • Silicone cupping
  • Orthotics and insoles
  • Temporary heel lifts
  • Massage of the calves and legs
  • Gentle, non-painful stretching
Achilles tendonitis treatment

Please note: If symptoms persist we recommend visiting your health professional for appropriate assessment and treatment.

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