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Achilles tendon pain, also known as Achilles tendinopathy, has been recognised for centuries. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the body, connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone.

The earliest known description of Achilles tendon pain dates back to ancient Greece, in the story of Achilles, the legendary Greek warrior. According to mythology, Achilles was invincible except for his heel, which was his only vulnerable spot. In the Trojan War, he was shot in the heel with an arrow and died from the injury.

The first medical description of Achilles tendon pain was recorded by the French surgeon, Jean Louis Petit, in 1778. He noted the pain and swelling in the Achilles tendon of a young soldier who had marched long distances. Petit believed that the condition was caused by excessive walking and marching, and he recommended rest and the use of a heel pad.

In the 19th century, several medical practitioners recognized the importance of the Achilles tendon in walking and running, and the potential for injury. In 1843, the French physician, Auguste Verneuil, described a condition he called “talalgia,” which he believed was caused by inflammation of the Achilles tendon.

In the early 20th century, the German surgeon, Georg Clemens Perthes, conducted pioneering research into the anatomy and function of the Achilles tendon. He identified the importance of the blood supply to the tendon and proposed that poor blood flow was a factor in the development of Achilles tendinopathy.

Today, Achilles tendon pain is a common condition among athletes and non-athletes alike. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, poor footwear, and bio-mechanical issues. Treatment options include rest, physical therapy, custom orthotics to correct foot alignment and in severe cases, surgery.

As our understanding of the foot and its function continues to deepen, it is likely that we will see new advances in the diagnosis and treatment of foot problems, as well as new strategies for preventing foot-related health issues.

The Foot Alignment Clinic is a leader in bio-mechanics and foot alignment, inventing and using the latest in technology for lower limb alignment.

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