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Understanding Achilles Troubles: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions.


Achilles tendinopathy: a pesky condition that can leave you limping instead of leaping. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just enjoy a good jog, understanding what causes it, how to spot it, and what you can do about it is crucial. Let's delve into the nitty-gritty with some evidence-backed insights.


Causes:

Ever heard the saying, "too much of a good thing"? Well, when it comes to physical activity, that can ring true. Overuse or sudden increases in activity levels are major triggers for Achilles tendinopathy [1]. It's like pushing your body past its breaking point, leading to micro-tears and inflammation in the tendon. And those old sneakers you refuse to part with? They might be part of the problem. Research shows that improper footwear can increase the risk of Achilles tendon injuries [2]. Biomechanical issues, like flat feet or high arches, can also throw a wrench into the works. And as we age, our tendons become less elastic and more prone to injury. If you've had trouble with your Achilles before, you're not out of the woods — previous injuries can make you more susceptible to future flare-ups [3]. It's a perfect storm of factors conspiring against your Achilles tendon.



Symptoms:

How do you know if you've fallen victim to Achilles tendinopathy? Your Achilles tendon might feel like it's been set ablaze — pain and stiffness are common complaints. There could be some swelling or tenderness in the area, too. And forget about enjoying your usual activities — walking or playing sports might become more of a chore than a pleasure. Keep an ear out for any strange sounds, too — sometimes you'll hear a crackling or popping noise when you move your ankle.



Treatment Options:

So, what's the remedy for a cranky Achilles tendon? Start with the basics — give it some much needed rest and ice it to reduce inflammation. Physiotherapy is a game-changer, helping to lengthen and strengthen the muscles around the tendon [4]. And don't skimp on the footwear — supportive shoes or orthotic inserts can work wonders [5]. There are also special exercises, like eccentric heel drops, that specifically target the Achilles tendon [6]. If the pain persists, your doctor might suggest medication or injections to help ease your discomfort.



Conclusion:

Achilles tendinopathy might throw a wrench into your plans, but it's not the end of the road. Armed with knowledge and evidence-backed strategies, you can get back to doing what you love in no time. Just remember to listen to your body, give it the rest it needs, and don't hesitate to seek help if the pain persists. Your Achilles tendon will thank you for it.


If you are suffering with an Achilles issue, the team here at Crouch Physio can definitely help. Don't suffer in pain or let this injury affect your levels of physical activity. Get in touch with a specialist physiotherapist today.




Blog By: Emre Oz (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Crouch Physio).



References:


1. Maffulli, N., Sharma, P. and Luscombe, K.L., 2004. Achilles tendinopathy: aetiology and management. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 97(10), pp.472-476.


2. Backman, L.J. and Danielson, P., 2011. Low range of ankle dorsiflexion predisposes for patellar tendinopathy in junior elite basketball players: a 1-year prospective study. The American journal of sports medicine, 39(12), pp.2626-2633.


3. Khan, R.J., Fick, D., Keogh, A., Crawford, J., Brammar, T. and Parker, M., 2005. Treatment of acute Achilles tendon ruptures: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. JBJS, 87(10), pp.2202-2210.


4. Fahlström, M., Jonsson, P., Lorentzon, R. and Alfredson, H., 2003. Chronic Achilles tendon pain treated with eccentric calf-muscle training. Knee surgery, sports traumatology, arthroscopy, 11, pp.327-333.


5. Hähni, M., Hirschmüller, A. and Baur, H., 2016. The effect of foot orthoses with forefoot cushioning or metatarsal pad on forefoot peak plantar pressure in running. Journal of foot and ankle research, 9, pp.1-8.


6. Mafi, N., Lorentzon, R. and Alfredson, H., 2001. Superior short-term results with eccentric calf muscle training compared to concentric training in a randomized prospective multicenter study on patients with chronic Achilles tendinosis. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 9, pp.42-47.

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