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Unraveling Achilles Tendon Woes: Tendonitis vs. Tendonosis.

In our previous blog post, we delved into the intriguing world of medical terminology, specifically focusing on the suffixes ‘itis’ and ‘pathy.’ Today, as promised, we’re shifting our attention to Achilles tendon issues—a topic that often confuses many individuals. When clients come to us at The Reinge Clinic with Achilles problems, they’re typically diagnosed with one of two conditions: Achilles Tendonitis or Achilles Tendonosis. To the uninitiated, these terms might seem interchangeable, but it’s crucial to understand that they are related yet fundamentally different issues. Moreover, many clients attempt self-treatment before seeking professional help, unknowingly exacerbating the problem in the process.

As a quick recap, let’s revisit the terminology we explored earlier. ‘Itis’ denotes inflammation, so when we say ‘tendonitis,’ we are essentially referring to the inflammation of a tendon. On the other hand, ‘tendonosis’ points to a more chronic problem characterised by poor healing or repetitive trauma, leading to a weakening of the collagen fibres and increased susceptibility to further injury. Typically, inflammation is not a prominent feature of Tendonosis.

Now that we’ve clarified the distinction between the two, this knowledge becomes incredibly valuable. If you’re contemplating self-treatment, it’s essential to recognize that some of the remedies for tendonitis can potentially worsen the condition of tendonosis.

How do I treat Achilles problems?

In a nutshell, both Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis can benefit from similar initial care, including the application of ice, relative rest, and a visit to a therapist for appropriate rehabilitation exercises. However, here’s a critical point to remember. If you’re considering taking anti-inflammatory medications, refrain from doing so in cases of tendonosis. Remember an “osis” is not typically an inflammatory based issues, so anti inflammatories are unlikely to have a positive effect. This caution is rooted in the side effects associated with anti-inflammatory drugs, which, while helpful for tendonitis, have been shown to create stomach issues when taken too often.

Beyond this differentiation, the treatment approaches for Achilles tendonitis and tendonosis largely overlap. Here are the key steps:

  1. Identify and Address the Cause: To break the cycle of injury, it’s crucial to pinpoint the underlying cause and take steps to eliminate it. This might involve assessing your running gait pattern or any other activity contributing to the issue.
  2. Stress Reduction: Consider incorporating a sports massage to alleviate stress on the affected tendon. This can promote healing and relieve discomfort.
  3. Biomechanical Correction: To prevent the problem from recurring, focus on improving your biomechanics. This may involve adjustments in your movement patterns or footwear choices.

What causes Achilles Problems?

  • Achilles problems can often come from an overworking calf muscle. As the tendon over tightens it will often create a tugging at the tendon, where it attaches to the bone. This can create inflammation, or a more chronic thickening of the tendon. The real trick is to work out why the calf tendon is overworking and therefore address the cause of the issue.
  • Sometimes, the problem comes from the foot. A weak foot will cause the muscles surrounding the ankle to overwork, to help stabilise the ankle. This can cause the calf to overwork and shorten.
  • The problem can also come from further up the body. A pelvis that tilts anterioryly can create a line of tension all the way down the rear of the body, eventially creating tightness in the calf.
  • Incorrect muscle firing patterns can be another cause. If the Hamstrings aren’t functioning correctly, the calf can try to assist and overwork as a result.

If your achilles problem keeps reoccurring, it is time to get it properly assessed to work out where the problem in coming from. With a few exercises and some loosening work, most achilles issues clear up relatively quickly.

We hope this clarification provides valuable insights if you’ve ever experienced or are currently dealing with Achilles tendon issues. Taking the right steps to initiate the healing process before seeking further professional help is key to a speedy recovery and returning to your active lifestyle. If it doesn’t clear up in a swift manner, give us a call and we will take a look. ????

Find out more about achilles tendonitis at this NHS website.