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What is Achilles tendinopathy?

Achilles tendinopathy is an injury to the band of tissue (tendon) that connects the muscles in your lower leg to your heel bone. You may get pain, stiffness and sometimes swelling around your heel. It’s a common injury, especially if you’re very active or do lots of sports.

About Achilles tendinopathy

Your Achilles tendon is the thickest and strongest tendon in your body. It connects your calf muscle to the bone in your heel, helping you to move your foot when you walk, run, climb or jump.

If you have Achilles tendinopathy, your Achilles tendon becomes damaged and stops working as well as it should. It’s usually damaged through repeated use and injury over time. The damage can make it painful and harder to do your usual activities.

You may sometimes hear Achilles tendinopathy called Achilles tendonitis. This means your tendon is inflamed. But because there isn’t always inflammation when your tendon is injured, this term isn’t strictly accurate.

Achilles tendinopathy symptoms

Achilles tendinopathy can cause several symptoms, including:

  • pain in your heel – this may be an ache or a sharp pain, which feels worse when you’ve been active or put pressure on it
  • stiffness in your tendon – often this is worse first thing in the morning or if you’ve been resting for a while
  • swelling at the back of your ankle
  • tenderness when you touch your tendon
  • a grating noise or creaking feeling (crepitus) when you move your ankle
  • If you feel sudden pain in your heel or calf, this could mean you’ve torn your tendon. This is called an Achilles tendon rupture. You may hear it snap and have trouble bearing any weight on your leg. If this happens, seek urgent medical advice.

Diagnosis of Achilles tendinopathy

Your physiotherapist will ask you about your symptoms and examine your leg, heel and ankle. They may ask you to do a series of movements or exercises to help them see how well you can move your leg. They may squeeze your calf muscle to check the movement of your foot.  They may also ask you about your medical history to check for other related causes or conditions.

Achilles tendinopathy can usually be diagnosed from your symptoms, and you won’t usually need any further investigations.

Causes of Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy is usually caused by overuse – this means repeated stress on your Achilles tendon over time. This can cause changes to the structure of your tendon and sometimes tiny tears, making it weaker.

Any sports or activities that put stress on your Achilles tendon can lead to Achilles tendinopathy. This includes running and anything that involves jumping – for example, dancing, gymnastics, squash and tennis. You may also be more likely to damage your Achilles tendon if you:

  • use badly designed equipment including wearing the wrong footwear
  • have a poor technique or haven’t trained properly for the activity you’re doing
  • suddenly increase how much exercise you do or the intensity of your exercise
  • train on hard or sloping surfaces

Other things that can make you more likely to develop Achilles tendinopathy include:

  • getting older – because your Achilles tendon becomes less flexible and less able to cope with stress
  • having a family history of the condition
  • if you’ve injured your tendon or the muscles around it in the past
  • having certain long-term health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol or thyroid problems
  • having certain problems affecting your feet or legs
  • being very overweight or obese
  • taking certain medications – for example, antibiotics belonging to the quinolone group; corticosteroids or statins

Achilles tendinopathy treatment

Physiotherapy can help to build up the strength and function in your Achilles tendon.  Depending on the severity and stage of the condition, physiotherapy treatment for patients with an Achilles tendinopathy is vital to hasten the healing process, to ensure an optimal outcome and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Treatments may often involve:

  • Soft Tissue techniques
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Stretching programme
  • Joint mobilisations
  • Gait Analysis and Orthotics
  • Taping
  • Hydrotherapy
  • An eccentric loading exercise training programme
  • Progressive rehabilitation programme and return to activity/sports plan
  • Acupuncture
  • Advice/education on optimal tendon loading

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megan chapman

Lead Administrator

Megan is the face of the centre and is the first point of call for all our clients.  Megan has been with the company for just over a year and before this Megan worked for 13 years in the sky working as cabin crew for the airline industry.
Megan is super creative and in her spare time she enjoys getting crafty and making things for her friends, family and the team.
Megan loves to make the clients feel welcome at the Centre and always ensures they have the best possible care from the moment they walk through the door until the moment they leave.

hannah gray

Practice Manager

Hannah oversees the day to day running of the Practice with the help of the amazing admin team.

Hannah has been with the company for 7 months and prior to this she spent 5 year as a practice manager in the dental industry. Hannah has completed various courses in customer service and administration and is keen on streamlining business processes.

In Hannah’s spare time she is a Mother of 4 Children and loves days out and trips away with the family.

Hannah enjoys seeing the clients make progress in the centre and believes this is all down to the fantastic therapists we have who put their heart and soul into giving the best possible care.

Patrick sanford

Marketing & Sales Director

Patrick handles all the organising of the practice … well, when Christine isn’t running it.  He has been with the company for eight years now. Prior to that, he spent 20 years as marketing manager at a bakery in Brighton – not putting the holes in the doughnuts! 

To his great surprise Patrick graduated from Luton University with a B.A. in Business & Marketing. He also serves as a trustee of a local veterans charity.  In his spare time, Patrick is a keen mountain biker and enjoys watching his daughter playing netball and basketball all round the country … and listening to some great tunes (well he thinks they are).  He believes that challenges make life interesting, but overcoming those challenges makes life meaningful.

As a final word, Patrick is obsessed with ensuring that all our awesome clients receive the highest level of service and care and safest possible environment.