What is Achilles Tendinopathy?

The Achilles tendon is the strongest and largest tendon of the body. It connects the calf muscles with the heel bone. The main function of this tendon is to pull the front of the foot, the toes, downwards as when standing on tiptoes. Achilles tendon plays a major role in movements such as walking, running, jumping, etc.

The power is transmitted from the lower leg muscles to the Achilles tendon to flex the forefoot and lift the heel up. Therefore, any pathology of the Achilles tendon can cause substantial changes in your leisure activities and lifestyle.

Achilles tendinopathy, also known as Achilles tendonosis, is a condition in which there is breakdown of the collagen forming the tendon. As a result, the tendon becomes weak and may lose its shape. Achilles tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon. It is further divided into two types: insertional and noninsertional. Insertional affects the lower portion of the tendon near the heel.

Noninsertional involves the middle portion of the tendon. The two terms are used interchangeably commonly, as they have similar symptoms. However, tendonosis is a degenerative condition while tendonitis is an inflammatory process.

Causes and Symptoms

Achilles tendinopathy is usually caused by sudden excessive and intensive exercise. Inadequate warm up before exercising can also play a role in degeneration. Certain risk factors such as old age, male gender, obesity, flat foot, arthritis can predispose and cause injury. Athletes, particularly runners, are especially susceptible for developing tendonitis and tendonosis.

The symptoms can start as mild discomfort and progress to severe pain around the heel area and above. A swelling can also be present and the skin may feel warm. The range of motion is restricted due to stiffness of the tendon. The joint pain and swelling characteristically get worse with activity. If you feel a sudden popping sensation origination from your heel, it is likely that the tendon might have ruptured. In such instances, early medical help and care is necessary.

Treatment and Prevention

Fortunately, Achilles tendinopathy is very much preventable through a few simple measures. A person should be careful about gradually increasing the duration and intensity of their workout/exercise. Prior warming up consisting of stretching of muscles also allows your body to adapt and increase flexibility.

Moreover, selecting proper shoes that can provide firm support and sufficient cushioning to your arches and heel, respectively can also avoid detrimental outcomes.

In cases of mild pain, achilles tendinopathy and tendonitis is successfully treated with over the counter painkillers (i.e. NSAIDS). Self-care at home includes RICE therapy as well. The principles consist of resting your muscles or switching to low impact exercises, for example, swimming.

Applying ice for short intervals to reduce swelling. Compression of the affected area counters swelling by minimizing the space available.

Lastly, elevation of the limb helps to increase the blood flow, hence, speeding up recovery and healing. Although it is highly effective in the majority of mild cases, if your pain is severe and persistent, other treatment plans may suit you better.

A modern and innovative approach of using PRP injections and regenerative medicine is being practiced by Orthocure. Comparatively the procedure is associated with minimal side effects. Since it requires no anesthesia or hospitalization, it could be a suitable choice for most individuals.

Besides, they can also deal with partial tendon tears. Previously surgery was thought to be the only available option for such patients. Nevertheless, physiotherapy is mandatory for maximizing results. With respect to this, trained physical therapy experts at Orthocure clinic can guide you accordingly on your road towards recovery.


Due to negligence, Achilles tendonitis/tendinopathy can lead to tendon rupture or tear. In such circumstances, a surgery is required to repair the tendon. If surgery is not performed, it can cause fibrosis of the tendon which will result in further loss of strength. Daily activities like walking may become difficult for these patients.


Achilles tendinopathy has a good prognosis on the whole. With proper care and treatment, the recovery takes about a week. Though putting pressure and continuing with weight bearing on the injured site can prolong the healing time. Thus proper care and following your doctor’s instructions can save you from significant morbidity and stress.

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