Achilles tendinopathy is an unfortunately common complaint seen in an osteopathy clinic. Achilles tendon pain is usually due to small tears in the tendon which can develop over time. This may occur due to a single incident of overstretching or straining the tendon, or through general overuse where the tendon becomes worn and damaged.
Several factors can contribute to the development of Achilles Tendonitis. These include:
- Wearing high-heeled shoes that shorten and tighten the calf muscle
- A sudden increase in the amount of training or walking
- Poor footwear that rub against the tendon or do not support the foot adequately
- Training on hard or uneven surfaces – beach running and running up hills is notorious for this
- Insufficient stretching or recovery between training sessions
- Poor foot biomechanics – excessive pronation is the most common
- Weight gain
Achilles symptoms include pain in the Achilles tendon, heel or lower calf. Tenderness to pressure and redness and swelling are common. There may be difficulty rising up onto your toes, particularly when standing on 1 leg only.
Early Osteopathy treatment for this problem is vital as it can become difficult to resolve the longer it has been there. Full rehabilitation is important to achieve an optimum outcome and prevent reoccurrence.
Treatment may include:
- Rest from provocative activities.
- Ice or heat (as directed by your Osteopath).
- A targeted stretching and strengthening program. Loosening of muscle and joint structures that may be impairing or altering normal movement of the calf muscles and ankle joint.
- Massage and soft tissue therapy.
- Bracing or taping may be used to unload the muscle and tendon.
- Acupuncture and dry needling.
- Correction of foot biomechanics – advice on footwear and/or the prescription of orthotics.
- Strengthening program to prevent re-injury