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Achilles Tendonitis explained

What is Achilles Tendonitis

Tendonitis refers to inflammation of a tendon, in this case the Achilles. The other tendons within the body most commonly susceptible to tendonitis are the rotator cuff, wrist extensors, wrist flexors, patella tendon and sometimes seen in hamstring tendons. Notwithstanding this injury can take place at any tendon (s) experiencing overuse or sudden stress/intense strain.

If you are suffering with a achilles pain and want to talk to someone immediately, please contact Molly Haskins at the Norfolk Tissue Therapy clinic. However, if you want to know more about this injury & the prescribed treatments please read on.

A common injury - this person has heel pain associated to Achilles Tendonitis

Tendonitis is usually caused by overuse during activity or exercise, as these factors inhibit too much stress on the tendons. In this case, a common cause for Achilles Tendonitis is usually seen in runners who have suddenly increased their duration or intensity and have not provided themselves with sufficient recovery time between training sessions. This is another very common injury treated at our Sports Injury Clinic in North Norfolk

Symptoms of Achilles Tendonitis may include

  • Pain in a tendon that gets worse when you move. This may begin as a mild ache at the calf or above the calcaneus (heel bone). If pain is severe, or a pop sound occurs when you feel this injury took place suddenly, a ruptured Achilles may have occurred that needs urgent medical attention.
  • Limited range of motion at the ankle joint
  • Feeling a grating or crackling sensation when you move the tendon
  • Swelling, Occasionally with heat or redness

Reducing the Risk

  • The risk of developing Achilles tendonitis increases with age, so it is important to adhere to resistance training a few times a week to help strengthen the muscles. In this case, the calf muscles, as this will enable the calf muscles and tendon to better handle encountered stressors.
  • Alternating physical activity with various exercises, such as running, swimming and weight training for example will limit the risk of overuse, with adequate rest provided.
  • When increasing the duration and intensity of running, try to do so gradually.
  • Maintain flexibility by carrying out calf stretches daily, especially before and after running/training.

It may take 2-3 weeks for Achilles tendonitis to heal, if the injury is mild. After this time, Norfolk Soft Tissue Therapy can aid the healing process further by using various soft tissue techniques to help break down scar tissue, increase elasticity and promote microcirculation to the injured site.

A patient receiving achilles tendonitis treatment from a soft tissue therapist

A Soft Tissue Therapist may help with exercises and advise after the acute phase. For example, Light eccentric strength exercises, once the tendon has healed enough will help during the latter stages of recovery. This will strengthen and lengthen the tendon which will also help the level of stiffness during recovery. If strengthening exercises are not possible, moving or stretching the area will also aid recovery.

Tendonitis usually micro tears develop due to sudden heavy force or overuse; it may be healed within a few days of using, Rest (for a few days), Ice (or try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the tendon for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours), Compression, Elevation protocol to reduce inflammation. Tendons take a long duration to heal due to their poor blood supply; if tendonitis is left untreated or adequate rest is not in place then this could develop to tendinosis (degeneration of collagen) which takes a lot longer to heal.

Where is the Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles tendon is a tough band of fibrous tissue, dense in collagen fibres. It is, like other tendons, formed in parallel bundles, which provide the tendons with their strong and resilient cord-like structures. It attaches the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles in the calf to the posterior calcaneum (heel bone). This connection attaching muscle to bone, allows for functional movement to occur, such as plantarflexion of the foot and flexion at the knee.

Disclaimer information

*This should not be taken as medical advice and you should still contact your GP/hospital if you suspect a serious injury. *