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Achilles Tendinopathy

(Achilles Tendonitis; Achilles Tendinosis)

Definition

Tendons connect muscle to bone and often connect near a joint. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. It can cause pain and swelling and makes it difficult to move. Tendinopathy may be:
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. An achilles tendinopathy is pain in this tendon.
Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis
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Causes

Tendinopathy is generally caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. Over time, the strain on the tendon causes structural changes within the tendon.
Overuse of the Achilles tendon can occur with activities such as:

Risk Factors

Achilles tendinopathy is more common in older adults due to the aging process. Factors that may increase your risk of getting Achilles tendinopathy include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of tendinopathy may include:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and exercise habits. A physical exam will be done. A diagnosis will be made based on the exam and history.
Images of the bones and tendons may be taken. This can be done with:

Treatment

Tendinopathy and the associated pain may take months to resolve. It can be frustrating, but it is important to follow through with the advised treatment.

Supportive Care

The tendon will need time to heal. Treatment may include:
  • Restricting activities
  • Ice therapy to help relieve swelling
  • A shoe insert that places the foot in the correct position
  • Ankle taping to support the area
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist will assess the tendon. Ultrasound and/or massage may be done to help relieve tension.
An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the calf muscles.

Prevention

To decrease your chances of getting Achilles tendonitis:

RESOURCES

American College of Sports Medicine http://acsm.org

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org

References

Achilles tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 26, 2015. Accessed February 29, 2016.

Achilles tendinitis. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00147. Updated June 2010. Accessed February 29, 2016.

Common disorders of the achilles tendon. American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons Foot Health Facts website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/achilles-tendon.htm. Accessed February 29, 2016.

de Jonge S, van den Berg C, de Vos RJ, et al. Incidence of midportion Achilles tendinopathy in the general population. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(13):1026-1028.

Irwin TA. Current concepts review: insertional achilles tendinopathy. Foot Ankle Int. 2010;31(10):933-939.

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.

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