All you need to know about Achilles Tendinopathy

13 August 2021

Are you experiencing heel discomfort or pain that doesn’t seem to go away, even after rest? You could have achilles tendinopathy. Read on to find out more.

Achilles tendinopathy or achilles tendinitis refers to the painful condition that affects the band of tissue that connects the calf muscles at the back of your lower leg to your heel bone. As the achilles tendon is a structure that is sensitive to load, either overloading or underloading the tendon can predispose it to injury. If you have started to experience heel pain after recent changes to your training regime, sport, or after changing shoes, you could have achilles tendinopathy.

Who does Achilles tendinopathy affect?

This condition most commonly affects runners or sprinters, as running is an activity that places high levels of load into the achilles tendon. People involved in sports that involve skipping or hopping tasks can also put stress on the tendon. 

If you have had a previous injury to the achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, or are flat-footed, this may also put you at a higher risk of developing the condition. Recent findings have also shown that hormonal imbalances, high BMI, and the presence of metabolic conditions can also increase risk of developing this condition.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, some emerging evidence has suggested that prior consumption of antibiotics (fluoroquinolones) can also increase the risk of developing achilles tendinopathy.

Training factors that increase your risk:

A recent change in how much stress is being placed on the achilles tendon is what places it at the highest risk of injury. Some examples of risk factors may be: 

  • A recent increase in the distance and frequency of running from 2km twice a week to 10km four times a week
  • Returning to sport after a period of rest
  • Change in training terrain 
  • Recent change in running technique
  • Frequent usage of high heels or tight boots 

What are the symptoms of Achilles tendinopathy?

achilles tendinopathy

Some of the common symptoms are as follows: 

  • Pain at heel bone region, or at the band of tissue that connects the back of your calf to your heel bone.
  • Stiffness in morning or on inactivity
  • Feels better after warming up, may be able to complete training/activity
  • Increased pain/stiffness experienced 24-48h after activity
  • Even with rest, does not go away completely
  • Worse on activities like running, jogging, walking

When should I seek help? 

Seek physiotherapy help if your symptoms are still present during your daily activities or sport after resting for 2 weeks. Even if symptoms seem mild, there could still be an injury to the tendon. “Pushing through the pain” may worsen your condition and exacerbate the injury over time. Depending on the extent of your injury, without proper rehabilitation, you are more likely to injure the tendon again. This could lengthen the recovery timeline when re-injury occurs. 

On the other hand, early management of your injury can mean quicker recovery times and less downtime from your sport. To facilitate tendon healing and recovery, there needs to be appropriate loading onto the tendon to assist healing. Your physiotherapist will be able to help you with that.

What can I expect from physiotherapy? 

Our team of physiotherapists will be able to help accurately diagnose your condition and tailor a treatment plan for you. We take your goals into consideration and determine what exercises would be appropriate for you. Consulting a physiotherapist will also help you have a better understanding of your body. This would help you understand the triggers for your condition so as to reduce injury risk in the future. 

We are experienced in handling sports injuries and foot pain will be able to help to pinpoint the root cause of your pain and treat it so that the problem is resolved. If you are experiencing pain, do contact us to book an appointment! No doctor’s referral is needed to make an appointment with us.