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Achilles Tendonitis

What is Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is a painful condition that is caused by inflammation of the Achilles tendon.

The Achilles tendon is very strong. It is found at the back of your ankle and connects your calf muscle to the bone in the heel of your foot. The Achilles tendon can become inflamed for a number of reasons, the main reason being overuse. The Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply and, therefore, it is slow to heal. Achilles tendonitis may happen as a result of an increase in activity, overuse or training too much, especially on hard surfaces or up hills.

At Manchester Podiatry we have skilled podiatrists who are trained in the diagnosis and management of a number of lower limb pathologies. Following a thorough assessment your podiatrist will form a diagnosis and then design a suitable treatment plan, one that will not only improve any painful symptoms, but that will also improve the function of the lower limb in order to prevent the problem from returning.

What are the causes of Achilles tendonitis?

Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury, and is often a case of 'too much, too soon'. Running up hills will mean the Achilles tendon has to stretch more than normal during each stride. This will not cause problems initially but the tendon will fatigue sooner than normal. Flat (or 'pronated') feet can place an increased strain on the Achilles tendon. As the foot rolls in (pronates) and flattens, the lower leg rotates inwards also which twists and stretches the Achilles tendon.

Podiatry treatment for Achilles tendonitis

An assessment with a podiatrist at Manchester Podiatry should be sought to review the cause of your Achilles tendonitis and a management plan devised to treat the condition. Your running regime may require modifying, as may footwear.

Podiatry treatment for Achilles tendonitis may include:

Orthoses (shoe inserts)
Orthoses may be prescribed by your podiatrist in order to correct any abnormal biomechanics that may be contributing to your symptoms of Achilles tendonitis. Orthoses work by altering the forces acting upon structures of the foot, thereby eliminating the stress put onto these structures and eliminating pain.

Heel raise
Achilles tendonitis may be the result of tightness in one or more of the muscles that make up the calf, which attach via the Achilles tendon. Heel raises may be prescribed for Achilles tendonitis in order to take the tension away from the Achilles tendon.

Ultrasound is a treatment employed by the podiatrists at Manchester Podiatry that uses sound waves in order to promote the healing of soft tissues. The purpose of ultrasound is twofold: to reduce the pain associated with Achilles tendonitis by reducing inflammation, and to increase the rate of healing.

Steroid injection
Steroid injections may be recommended if the pain of Achilles tendonitis persists following other treatments (e.g. orthoses, exercises ultrasound etc). The pain experienced by Achilles tendonitis is the result of inflammation. Steroid injections reduce inflammation, and therefore reduce any pain associated with Achilles tendonitis.

Exercises and stretches
Achilles tendonitis may be due to tightness in one or more of the muscles that make up the calf muscle at the back of the leg. If tightness in the calf muscles is diagnosed as the cause of your Achilles tendonitis your podiatrist will prescribe a stretching programme designed to lengthen the muscles and stretch the Achilles tendon, thereby reducing any Achilles pain caused by the tightness.

Biomechanical assessment
A biomechanical assessment may be necessary if you have Achilles tendonitis, and poor biomechanics is contributing to your painful symptoms. A biomechanical assessment assesses the mechanics of your foot and lower limb, which includes a gait analysis. The information from the biomechanical assessment provides your podiatrist with the information necessary to formulate a prescription orthoses. The purpose of the orthoses is to improve the function of the foot and lower limb, eliminating any pain in the Achilles tendon that has been caused by poor lower limb function.

Injection therapy for Achilles tendonitis

At Manchester Podiatry we offer steroid injections for the relief of the painful symptoms associated with Achilles tendonitis. Achilles tendonitis refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which exhibits itself as pain. Steroids are extremely powerful anti-inflammatories; they therefore reduce inflammation and reduce any pain associated with that inflammation.

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