A retrospective study is presented of 83 athletes with tendo Achillis pain (TAP) treated conservatively over a 12-year period from 1976 to 1988. Local steroid injections did not contribute to an earlier return to sport, though many individuals were improved symptomatically. Local steroids were not found to have a deleterious effect on outcome. Steroids were used most frequently in the chronic cases that presented late and had been treated previously: this group had most recurrences and surgical intervention. One case of Achilles rupture (3%) occurred in the group treated with steroids. Early presentation for treatment led to an earlier return to sport and avoidance of recurrences. Recurrences were most frequent in athletes with bilateral Achilles tendinopathy. The tendo Achillis lesion may range from peritendinitis through a mixed lesion of the tendon and paratenon, to complete rupture. The management depends upon accurate diagnosis, its chronicity and the age and aspirations of the patient. Steroids are safe to use and further prospective trials should note presentation time and disease staging accurately.
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