Achilles Pain? Blow For Chris Judd

Cartlon have been missing their star midfielder this year due to a frustrating Achilles injury. It is reported he played most of last season with a stiff and sore Achilles which was affecting his ability to maintain form. The injury failed to respond to normal rehabilitation measures so surgery is now required.

Achilles tendinitis is a very common condition that affects many athletes, predominantly those in sports that involve a lot of running and jumping. So how do you know you have Achilles tendinitis? You will feel pain at the back of the heel and into the tendon with it generally hurting first thing in the morning and early into a run. The pain can be dull at first but can often become very sharp and if you touch the back of the heel it will feel tender.

The most important thing you can do is to seek treatment early. Typically most athletes will ignore it for a few weeks hoping it will get better (it usually doesn’t..) and push through the discomfort. This tends to make matters worse as we know that early intervention is the key to treating this stubborn condition. Often the initial treatment involves managing it like any acute inflammatory condition with ice, rest, compression and light treatment. However commonly I see patients who have had the condition for many months and it has crossed over to become chronic. This becomes much harder to treat and takes much longer to resolve. There is no doubt Chris Judd has access to the best care for injury management but even elite athletes will ignore the early signs and continue to train and play despite significant discomfort. Judd has since had to have surgery on his Achilles (reportedly 3 different techniques were used) as this became the only option when conservative management had failed.

For most of us who don’t have access to round-the-clock rehab consultants we need to be more proactive in recognising an issue and seeking immediate treatment. If picked up in the early stages, Achilles tendinitis is relatively straightforward to treat with a good prognosis. However when it becomes chronic you may have to deal with some significant time on the sidelines!

Andrew Maitland is a sports podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic. Having worked closely with many elite and amateur runners over the years he has helped many people in the prevention and treatment of running injuries.