Achilles tendinopathy refers to degeneration within the large tendon which joins the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone.
It is a common injury in sports like running and jumping and results from overuse of the tendon. Injury to this dense band of tissue most commonly occurs in the 30 to 60 year old males while participating in activities requiring quick changes in direction. The patient usually reports feeling a “shot” in the back of the calf and then having sharp pain. Swelling usually occurs from the bleeding associated with the tendon rupture. Repetitive use of the calf muscles and therefore by the Achilles tendon can lead to microscopic tears within the substance of the tendon. To repair these tears, the body commences an inflammatory response. Factors that may contribute to Achilles tendinopathy include a recent change in training, overtraining, poor footwear, incorrect biomechanics and decreased calf muscle flexibility and ankle joint range of motion.
It results in pain within the tendon just above where it attaches to the heel bone. This pain typically develops gradually. Initially, the tendon may only be painful after exercise. You may experience stiffness or tightness in the Achilles region. These initial signs disappear quickly with walking about or applying heat. However, as you continue to participate, the tendinopathy progresses and the pain within the tendon becomes more intense and more frequent. Later on, pain will be present constantly and thickening around the achilles tendon (just above the heel stretching up the lower part of the calf) will be seen and felt.
Physiotherapy might include Ultrasound, Cold Laser Therapy, Interferential Therapy, eccentric loading and strengthening exercises, dry needling and stretches. Causes identified above, should be corrected including faulty training techniques, biomechanical problems and muscle imbalances. These corrections might also include inner soles for your shoes, taping of the TA or calf muscles, bracing and posture correction. However, in the case of a complete rupture or tear of the Achilles Tendon, it should be surgically repaired as soon as possible.