Also known as Achilles tendinitis, Achilles tendinopathy is a fairly common affliction, particularly in people in their thirties. Runners and people participating in sports involving running are particularly susceptible.
What is it?
Pain arises from the Achilles tendon, usually midway up the tendon. It is a chronic, degenerative process where the Achilles is placed under more cumulative load than it is able to deal with, and in response degrades itself, making it able to tolerate less and less force over time. Over time the tendon may become thickened, and may develop a large nodule mid tendon.
What does it feel like?
Achilles tendinopathy typically has an inflammatory presentation. That is, it will usually be most painful when beginning activity after a period of prolonged inactivity. Patients often describe pain and 'walking like an old man' on waking in the morning. It also often hurts when beginning running, then eases as you continue running, then hurts again when you cease running.
What can be done about it?
The key to recovery from Achilles tendinopathy is a graduated strengthening program. With controlled exposure to increased load, structural change to the Achilles tendon can be stimulated which makes it able to cope with these increased loads.
Other parts of the treatment may include taping, soft tissue massage and strengthening of the calf muscles, correction of biomechanical issues, and activity and load modification.
Flare ups in pain can be managed with ice and relative rest, as for an acute injury like a joint sprain or muscle strain.
Unfortunately, degenerative issues with tendons are usually slow to recover. If rehab is begun when the degenerative process has only begun recently, it can be turned around quite quickly, however when the degeneration has been going for a long time (which may not necessarily mean the pain has been felt for a long time) it can be a slower recovery. Sometimes getting the tools to manage the condition yourself over time becomes the aim of rehab, rather than the expectation of complete recovery.
If you're experiencing Achilles pain, or any other pain with running, come visit our physiotherapist in Aubin Grove and have it seen to.