Achilles tendinitis has been called for many years until now “tendinitis”, but the reality is that it is thought to be noninflammatory so this term would be erroneous and it should be called Achilles tendinosis or Achilles tendinopathy instead. From now, I will call it “tendinitis”, as it is the term that people normally use. Terminology for Achilles tendon related disorders by C. N. van Dijk et al. talks about how the terminology of Achilles tendon pathologies is still a bit confusing .
Achilles tendinitis is one of the most common injuries in runners (between 7% and 9% of their injuries) and sometimes, if you are unaware, you keep on running and this injury becomes difficult to recover from. Healing of the tendon is usually slow (within approximately 3-6 months after the start of treatment), due to its poor blood supply, above all, in its midportion.
Our body is constantly building new tissue or breaking it down. It is no more than a balance. If a tendon has frequent and excessive load, the amount of tissue breakdown exceeds tissue synthesis, the tendon starts to change its structure, becomes less efficient and a vicious circle starts. We get an injury.
The average age of those affected by Achilles disorders is between 30 and 50 years, being more common in males. The tendinitis can be either acute or chronic and the best way to define it is describing the signs and symptoms. The main symptoms for an acute tendinitis include:
- Pain at the bottom of your calf, which firstly appears when you start exercise, goes away during exercise and worsens after it.
- The tendon might be tender on palpation, when you squeeze it between 2 and 5 cm from the heel bone.
- Rest eases the pain.
- The calf might be tight.
On the other hand, acute tendinitis would result in a chronic tendinitis if it is not treated, you do not rest it long enough and do not eliminate the cause.
The main symptoms for an chronic tendinitis include:
- Constant pain, which is often worse as you take your first step in the morning or after rest ( along with stiffness), walking up slopes, upstairs, on tiptoe and, of course, playing sports.
- Possible lumps in your Achilles tendon. At times you can get what I call “a noisy tendon”( a kind of creaking) when you touch your tendon and move your ankle.
- Tenderness when touching your tendon.
- Surrounding inflammation (this inflammation comes from the surrounding tissues, as tendons do not have inflammatory cells), thickened tendon and possible redness.
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If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me on The Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy Clinic based in Southampton, and I will be happy to help you.
Don’t forget that you can also read the Spanish version of this post following this link Tendinitis aquílea: definición, signos y síntomas.