The Achilles tendon is situated above the heel and forms the lower part of the calf muscles. Achilles tendon problems occur when the tendon is not strong enough to withstand the forces placed onto it.
Initially inflammation develops in and around the tendon, this is called Tendonitis. Correct treatment and advice at this stage can prevent the problem becoming more chronic. If the problem persists Achilles Tendinosis or Tendinopathy can develop. This is degeneration of the tendon. The symptoms are pain, which is worsened by activity, and the focal areas of degeneration or inflammation feel tender to touch. The affected part of the tendon may appear thickened in comparison to the unaffected side. Often the tendon feels very stiff first thing in the morning.
A tendon rupture is when the tendon completely tears, in most cases surgery is needed to repair the tendon.
Most patients with this condition heal well with appropriate physiotherapy. This, however, can be a lengthy process and may take up to 6 months in those who have had their condition for a long period of time. Early physiotherapy treatment is vital to hasten recovery in all patients with this condition.
Treatment for Achilles Tendon Pain
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Orthotic/Insole advise
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Biomechanical Assessment
- Activity modification advice
- Exercise programs to improve proprioception, balance and strength
- Brace/Splinting advise
- Ice or heat treatment
- Joint mobilisation
- Joint manipulation
- Injection advise
- Occasionally the use of crutches
- The use of a heel raise
- Occasionally the use of a protective boot or night splint