Achilles tendinopathy

Damage to the Achilles tendon fibres, including pain, swelling or stiffening of your, often caused by overuse or exercising.

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What is Achilles tendinopathy?

The Achilles tendon is one of the largest tendons in the body located between the foot and ankle, connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. The Achilles is needed to stand on tip toes and is essential for walking, jogging and running. Tendinopathy is a condition which causes swelling and pain in the Achilles tendon and can occur after injury or overuse.

Need to know

There are two types of Achilles tendinopathy;

1. Insertional at its lower end, where it attaches to the heel bone

2. Non-insertional higher up the tendon towards the calf.

Achilles tendinopathy is most likely to be an overuse injury, where small micro tears can occur following an increase in activity or a change in training pattern, but could occur if you change your footwear.

Typical symptoms include swelling and pain in the back of the heel. The symptoms are often worse on exertion, for example during sports, but if left untreated may get worse and start to effect everyday activities such as walking.

Your consultant will start by carrying out a full clinical assessment to look at your biomechanical alignment as well as for any obvious thickening along your Achilles tendon. They will also test all your other joints for an underlying rheumatological cause.

You might require an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis. Your consultant may ask about pain levels and give advice on how to manage these as well as come up with a recommended treatment plan.

There are several treatment options available and your consultant will talk to you about which are best for you. Most cases of Achilles tendinopathy respond to a specialised physiotherapy rehabilitation programme.

Other treatments may include a combination of:

Our locations

Institute of Sport Exercise and Health (ISEH)

170 Tottenham Court Road W1T 7HA London
The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.