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Achilles tendon problems

What are Achilles tendon problems?

The Achilles tendon, located at the back of the ankle and linking the calf muscle to the heel bone, is the body’s largest tendon and facilitates activities like walking, running and jumping.

Achilles tendon pain can be experienced for a number of reasons and in more serious cases, the Achilles tendon can rupture, which may require Achilles tendon surgery.

Problems with other foot tendons can also occur.

What causes Achilles tendon pain?

Often, especially for active people in middle-age, if there is no obvious cause, tendon pain can be linked to arthritis or other inflammatory issues. Achilles ruptures are normally the result of over-training when the tendon cannot withstand the level of activity.

Tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon causing pain and swelling, can be triggered by a variety of factors, including a change or intensification of training schedule. There are two forms of Achilles tendinitis:

  • Non-insertional Achilles tendinitis occurs when fibres in the central part of the tendon break down due to miniscule tears (or degeneration), resulting in inflammation.
  • Insertional Achilles tendinitis affects the lower end of the tendon, close to the heel, where it attaches to the heel bone. Sometimes, bone spurs will form on the heel bone and the sac of lubricating fluid situated behind the tendon (bursa) can get inflamed (bursitis). Insertional tendinitis can affect anyone, whether they are physically active or not.

Achilles tendon pain

Achilles tendon rupture

Achilles ruptures or tears affect approximately one in 8,000 participants in competitive sport and occur more frequently in people aged between 30 and 50. An Achilles tendon rupture means no connection exists between the heel bone and the muscles in the back of the calf.

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