What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

The Achilles tendon is the biggest tendon in the body. It is subject to lots of stresses in the course of daily life and sports.

Several problems can occur to the Achilles Tendon. The tendon can snap, or the tendon can become damaged by wear and tear within the tendon without snapping. This happens within the substance of the tendon, and it becomes swollen. It can be painful and limit normal activity. There may be stiffness after periods of inactivity or first thing in the morning.

The tendon has a poor area of blood supply about 5cm from where it attaches to the heel bone. This is often where pain and swelling occur. This area is at risk of rupturing if subject to excessive forces. Typically, this can occur during sport especially tennis, badminton, squash and basketball. This is usually a disease of middle age, but it occurs much more in runners, especially when stretching exercises are not performed. The tendon is thought to undergo more strain if the running style includes landing more on the outer side of the heel and then rotating the foot in rapidly as the foot becomes flat to the floor.

Sometimes the pain is due to inflammation of the outer lining of the tendon. This is called peritendonitis. It is a different condition to achilles tendinopathy, where there is typically no inflammatory reaction to damage within the tendon.

The diagnosis can be confirmed by clinical examination, an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan. These can demonstrate the swelling of the tendon, as well as damage within the tendon. Clinical examination is usually enough to diagnose a rupture as shown on the left.

If you have Achilles problems, it is best to see an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in foot and ankle surgery. You can be advised of the possible ways of treating this problem, including non-surgical and surgical means.

about this condition
what your 
operation involvesAchilles_Tendinopathy_Surgery.html
what to expect
after surgeryAchilles_Tendinopathy_Rehab.html
back to homepagehomepage.html
back to conditions of the foot and ankleconditions.html