The Achilles tendon joins the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) to the heel bone (calcaneus). The Achilles tendon is commonly injured in sport but injury can occur acutely in everyday life. Achilles tendon injury can be divided into two types:
Achilles Tendon Rupture
This is a tear of the Achilles tendon, usually due to acute trauma eg during running, stepping into a hole etc. This causes sharp pain and sometimes a ‘popping sound’. If there is a complete tear of the tendon surgery is usually advised. If there is a partial tear, immobilisation in a boot followed by physiotherapy including soft tissue treatment, exercise programme, acupuncture and dry needling are effective treatments.
Achilles tendinopathy is an overuse injury to the Achilles tendon. It is usually associated with running or jumping sports. It is typically characterised by pain around the back of the heel or calf which eases as it warms up allowing the athlete to train but then the pain is worse after the session and may even be worse the following day. Treatment should include training modification, biomechanical assessment and correction, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, dry needling, strengthening and laser treatment.
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