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Achilles Tendinopathy

What is it?

Achilles Tendinopathy is usually divided into 2 stages: reactive and degenerative. The reactive stage is usually a response to an increase in loading (such as a sudden increase in training); the tendon will become painful and may swell. The degenerative stage is seen in the more chronic cases; here the tendon’s structure is changed and may have developed nodules or have become thickened. This is a gradual, painful process, however it can sometimes occur without pain with the first sign of a tendon problem being a sudden unexpected rupture.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms will generally be of gradual onset and the patient will complain of pain in the Achilles tendon, especially between 2 and 6cm above the heel bone; there may also be swelling and thickening of the tendon. Gradually the pain may develop to become a problem on a daily basis. Patients will often complain of pain and stiffness in the Achilles first thing in the morning

What causes it?

Common causes are tight calf muscles, poor biomechanics and reduced muscle strength/endurance.

What to do at home

In the reactive stage treatments should be focused around settling the symptoms: rest, anti-inflammatory medication (consult your GP or pharmacist), ice, use of a gel heel raise. If you are overweight, losing weight is recommended.

When to seek help

As there are many conditions that can cause similar symptoms, it is important to seek professional advice before undertaking any treatment plan.


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