What is Achilles Tendinitis?
Achilles Tendinitis is an overuse injury to the Achilles tendon which is located on the lower part of your calf and connects the calf to the heel. A tendinitis refers to the breakdown of collagen in a tendon. This causes burning pain in addition to reduced flexibility and range of motion in the Achilles/ankle joint.
What causes Achilles Tendinitis?
Overuse of this tendon can be due to repetitive and excessive running, jumping or stretching usually by people who are mostly inactive ie. sitting all day and then participate in a large amount of repetitive use of the tendon ie. 5km run. It also occurs in people who increase the frequency of their activity very quickly over a short amount of time.
What are the symptoms of Achilles Tendinitis?
The symptoms you may feel with an Achilles tendinitis is burning pain with movement/walking, swelling around the heel and limited dorsiflexion (flexing your foot towards you) of your ankle.
It is common to also experience morning stiffness and pain when first getting up. The tendon will then warm up and people will be able to function throughout the day and then experience pain at the end of the day once the tendon is not in use again.
How does Physiotherapy treat Achilles Tendinitis?
How Physiotherapy aims to treat Achilles tendinitis is by decreasing the acute inflammation/pain in the tendon with reduced activity, ice, anti-inflammatories, alternative footwear/inserts. The we must regain the movement in the ankle joint with soft tissue therapy and gentle stretches whilst beginning to load the tendon again with strengthening exercises.
These exercises are very specific and need to be overseen by your Physiotherapist carefully to ensure a return to full function. Scientific research still supports strengthening exercises as the best treatment for this condition. When management is not overseen by a Physiotherapist this condition can become chronic and cause further long term issues.
What will we ask you to do to manage your Achilles Tendinitis?
Your Physiotherapist will take you through the stages of healing and rehabilitation of the injury and ask you to perform exercises and stretches to ensure milestones are met. Working together as a team is very important for this condition.