Achilles tendonitis is very successfully treated using focused soundwaves with ultrasound guidance during treatment, to stimulate a healing response. About 80% of patients improve significantly within 10 weeks of treatment, even when all other options have failed.
The Achilles tendon attaches to the posterior (back) of the heel and can be divided into 2 sections:
Insertional – is the part of the tendon that attaches on to the bone. (Click image below to enlarge)
Non-insertional – is from where the tendon leaves the bone and runs up the back of the leg to become the calf muscle.
Achilles tendonitis (also referred to as Achilles tendinopathy or tendinosis) is often caused as a result of repetitive activity such as running, jogging and jumping, or in people who are constantly loading the tendon with pressure e.g tradespeople constantly squatting like plumbers, or roofers who constantly stand on an angle. Achilles tendonitis can also be caused by a one off traumatic event.
These constant activities can eventually cause inflammation or tiny tears within the tendon which then causes pain and in some cases extensive swelling can occur on the back of the heel.
There can be both soft tissue swelling and calcification causing swelling – this is where calcium is gradually deposited inside the body of the tendon. Eventually, the calcium can become an issue as it starts to take up space.
There is also a degenerative factor when tendons are injured, as with age, our ability to repair decreases and intervention to assist healing may be necessary. People with achilles tendonitis often complain about tight calves.
Pain and/or stiffness experienced on getting out of bed in the morning which eases with walking.
Pain experienced at the start of activity which may ease as you continue that activity. The pain may then increase after that activity is finished or experience pain the next day.
Pain experienced with walking or use of steps/stairs or inclines.
You may experience redness or heat in the area and pain on palpation.
We usually require an x-ray of the area prior to treatment to rule out any other bony or soft tissue problems.
It may show a spur on the back of the heel. This usually develops as the end result of the problem. As the tendon swells it thinks it might rupture or tear and starts to deposit calcium to strengthen its position on the bone or develops deposits inside the tendon itself.