Achilles tendinitis can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but with the right treatment it can managed and prevented.
Now more accurately known as Achilles tendinopathy or tendinosis, it is a condition that causes pain at the back of the heel.
There are two main types of tendinopathy: at the heel bone (insertional) or just above the heel bone in the mid-portion (non-insertional). A degree of inflammation and/or degeneration is typically present.
Symptoms include a gradual onset of pain at the back of the heel, stiffness and aching. The tendon is usually tender to the touch, and may contain lumps known as nodules.
If you experience severe pain after exercising, swelling of the after physical activity or thickening of the tendon, these are also symptoms of Achilles tendinitis.
Common causes include a sudden increase in activity, overloading of the tendon, changes in footwear or training surface, weak or tight calf muscles, wearing high heels, running up hills and over pronation (poor biomechanics).
Depending on the individual case, Achilles tendinitis treatments often involve a rehabilitation program, along with heel pads and sometimes orthotics.
These measures improve the strength and reduce the loading of the tendon, providing pain relief over time. By working with your podiatrist and building strength in the tendon over time this usually eases the pain and prevents prolonged inflammation.
In more difficult cases, these treatments can now be combined with regenerative therapies. This range of drug-free treatments includes prolotherapy, platelet rich plasma, cytokine concentrates and photobiomodulation (low level laser).