What is Tendonitis?
Tendons are tough, but flexible bands of fibrous tissue that attach muscles to bone. Tendonitis is a very common cause of foot or ankle pain—it usually occurs due to inflammation around a tendon. This condition most often is the result of an overuse injury, but improper stretching prior to or incorrect form during physical activity can also contribute to the tendonitis.
Symptoms of Tendonitis
Tendon injuries can be acute, meaning they occur suddenly, or they can be chronic and develop over a period of time. Pain associated with tendonitis is typically dull and aching, but as the condition worsens, you may experience sharp, burning, or radiating pain around the foot or ankle. Other symptoms of tendonitis include:
Types of Tendonitis
The most common forms of tendonitis that affect the foot and ankle include:
Achilles tendonitis: The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the foot, and it attaches the calf muscles to the back of the heel. Achilles tendonitis occurs when this tendon becomes inflamed.
Posterior tibial tendonitis: This condition occurs when the posterior tibial tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot, becomes inflamed or ruptured.
Peroneal tendonitis: The peroneal tendons run down the outside of the ankle just behind the fibula and can become strained and inflamed due to overuse.
Flexor tendonitis: The flexor tendon is responsible for stabilizing the toes. Pain may be felt in the arch of the foot or on the inside back of the ankle.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Tendonitis
Because tendon injuries typically worsen without proper treatment, immediate medical care is usually recommended. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will perform a physical examination and gather your medical history. During the physical examination, your doctor will look for instability, swelling, and weakness.
The goal of medical tendonitis treatment is to alleviate pain and inflammation. The treatment method your doctor recommends will depend on the severity of the condition. For mild tendonitis, your doctor will most likely start with conservative treatments. These might include new shoe recommendations, arch supports or orthotics and prescription braces. For more serious cases of tendonitis, he or she may offer anti-inflammatory or cortisone injections to reduce any immediate pain. When the condition does not respond to noninvasive treatments, minimally invasive surgical procedures may be required.