What Exactly is Tendonitis, and What Causes This Condition?
Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon; tendons are thick cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis can be the result of overuse of a tendon, from a foot or ankle injury such as a ligament sprain, or repetitive friction on the tendon including a shoe rubbing on a tendon.
The lack of stretching prior to exertion or using incorrect form during physical activity can also be a contributing factor to the development of tendinitis. Some individuals, including those people with flat feet, tight tendons, high arches or arthritis, are especially susceptible to getting tendinitis. If a tendon works too hard, in the wrong way, or for too long a time, then damage and tiny tears will develop in the tendon.
Finally, inflammatory medical conditions may contribute to tendonitis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis.
What are the Symptoms of Tendonitis of the Foot and Ankle?
There are various symptoms that point to tendonitis of the foot. They include:
- Pain in the foot, which will be most apparent when you try to move that part of your body. This is usually the first sign that there is a problem, and the pain tends to be a sharp and/or a burning pain. Pain is usually worse with initial movement, then settles down after a minute or so, but will return as you are on your feet more.
- Swelling and inflammation in your foot, which will take a while to develop. After a few weeks of minor symptoms, you may notice a soft lump forming over the tendon, which is often tender to the touch.
- A stiffness that is present in the foot and the ankle that limits the amount of pain-free movement.
What are Some Different Types of Foot and Ankle Tendonitis?
There are various types of foot and ankle tendonitis. Some of these types include:
- Achilles tendonitis, which causes heel and calf pain.
- Posterior tibial tendonitis, which causes pain on the inner side of the foot. Pain is typically felt when you start to push off through your foot.
- Peroneal tendonitis, which causes pain on the back and outer side of your ankle/foot. Pain is usually felt upon standing or pushing off through your foot.
- Extensor tendonitis, which causes pain on the top of the foot, and is a rare type of ankle tendonitis.
- Anterior tibial tendonitis, which results in pain at the front of your foot. Pain is typically felt when coming down stairs or when walking or running on slopped surfaces such as hills.
Remedies for Foot and Ankle Tendonitis
There are various remedies for foot and ankle tendonitis. To start, you should limit all kinds of extra activity on your foot, elevate your leg, and apply ice – or any type of cold vegetables from the freezer – for up to 15 minutes at a time, three to four times a day. Other remedies may include:
- The application of a special bandage on your foot, which usually will be recommended by your doctor and can be found easily in a drugstore or pharmacy.
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Undergoing physiotherapy, such as ultrasound, UHF, microwave currents, magnetic therapy and ultraviolet radiation.
- Going through therapeutic physical training performed on a stimulator to strengthen the tendons.
- Correcting a flatfoot condition using insoles or orthopedic shoes.
- Wearing a plaster cast.
- Undergoing surgery.
What can you do to Prevent Foot and Ankle Tendonitis?
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent foot and ankle tendonitis. They include:
- Gradually increasing your activity level; if you are just starting to exercise on a regular basis, you should start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
- Avoiding activities that place an excessive amount of force on your foot, and always warming up before beginning to exercise. If you feel any pain, stop exercising immediately.
- Stretching in the final stage of your exercise routine and not performing one exercise for a specific muscle group for a long period of time.
- Choosing your sport and everyday shoes very carefully. Exercise shoes should help to relieve tension in the Achilles tendon.
- Stretching your muscles – particularly your calf muscles – in the morning before and after exercise in order to maintain flexibility and in order to avoid a repeat of tendinitis of the foot and ankle.