Foot & Ankle Injury Rehabilitation (O)

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Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles Tendinopathy is a chronic, yet common condition in sports people and recreational athletes. In the past treatment options have been limited due to a poor understanding of its cause; however recent research has revealed valuable information that has provided further treatment options.

Until recently Achilles Tendinopathy was referred to as Achilles Tendinitis. However, research has found that this type of injury does not involve inflammation and is most likely due to a series of microtears (tendinosis) that weaken the tendon

The Achilles tendon is a large tendon at the back of the ankle. The tendon is an extension of the gastrocnemius and soleus (calf muscles), running down the back of the lower leg attaching to the calcaneus (heel bone). The Achilles tendon connects the leg muscles to the foot and gives the ability to push off during walking and running

The two most common injuries of the Achilles tendon are Achilles Tendinopathy, and tearing or rupturing of the tendon. Other less common injuries include Peritendinitis and Retrocalcaneal Bursitis.

Achilles Tendinopathy can be due to one or a number of causes which may result in excessive loading on the Achilles, including:

  • A sudden increase in the intensity, frequency and duration of activity.
  • Wearing inadequate or incorrect footwear.
  • Excessive pronation (force on achilles tendon increases).
  • Running on hard or uneven surfaces.
  • Poor muscle flexibility (e.g. tight calf muscles, weak calf muscles).
  • Decreased joint range of motion (e.g. stiff ankle joint).
  • Inadequate warm up, stretching and cool down.

Achilles Tendinopathy that is causing symptoms can require weeks to months of rest for the tendon to slowly repair itself. A sports medicine professional should be seen as soon as possible to determine the extent of the injury and to provide advice on treatment required.

Once pain has settled a program of rehabilitation exercises may be prescribed to gradually strengthen the tendon to enable it to cope with increased load before return to activity.

The use of crutches may be recommended to keep weight off the injury. Taping, a heel raise or even a plaster cast may also be used if the injury is severe. Other treatment may include ultrasound, mobilisation, stretching, sports massage and orthotics. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed to reduce pain