Tendons are connective bands of tissue that attach the muscles to the bones in your feet and ankles. They are used for movement and can be susceptible to a variety of problems such as tears, ruptures, or inflammation. These types of problems are not only painful but can make it difficult to walk or do daily activities.
Common Tendon Problems
There are various tendon problems that can occur in the feet and ankles. Some of the most common are:
- Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis is an overuse injury that causes inflammation in the foot and ankle. It can be caused by wearing high heels, not warming up properly before activity, or increasing the intensity of a workout suddenly.
- Achilles tendon rupture. The Achilles tendon can rupture or tear while engaging in a high-impact sport. The common symptom of this type of injury is a sudden popping sound and sharp pain in the back of the ankle and lower part of the leg. A rupture or tear of the Achilles tendon can make it difficult and painful to walk.
- Peroneal tendinitis. Peroneal tendinitis affects the tendons along the outer ankle to the outside bones of the feet. It can cause pain and inflammation on the outer part of the ankle that is worse during activity. Pain may also be present when pressing on the outside of the ankle. Peroneal tendinitis is caused by overuse, overpronation when running, or tight calf muscles.
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. The posterior tibial tendon supports the arch of the foot and stretches from the inner part of the ankle to the middle of the foot. When the posterior tibial tendon is injured, it can cause pain, swelling, flat foot, or a collapsed arch.
- Extensor tendonitis. The extensor tendon is located on the top of the foot and can be damaged from wearing shoes that are too tight or from activities such as running on an incline. This type of injury is often worse when active and improves during rest.
- Flexor tendonitis. Flexor tendonitis causes pain in the inner back part of the ankle. It can occur from activities that involve balancing on the toes such as dancing.
Symptoms of a Tendon Problem
Inflammation and pain are the most common signs that you have a problem with the tendon in your foot or ankle. You may also have the following symptoms:
- Pain when walking or running
- Pain that lessens when you are at rest
- Pain when the area is touched
- Reduced flexibility in the joints of the ankle
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
If you have a problem with a tendon in your foot or ankle, contact a podiatrist for an evaluation. Many problems can worsen without proper treatment or cause chronic pain and joint stiffness. To diagnose a tendon problem, a physical exam will be done and imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI be ordered.
Many tendon problems can be treated conservatively by:
- Rest. Tendon problems often result from overuse and need rest to heal properly. Resting the foot and ankle can often provide relief from the pain. Keeping the foot elevated while at rest can help with swelling.
- Ice. Applying ice to the area where the injury occurred can help reduce inflammation and swelling of the tendon.
- Medication. For pain and swelling, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug may be used.
- Support. Taping or using a brace can help support the injured ankle or foot while giving the tendon time to heal.
- Stretches. Stretching the tendons can help with pain and stiffness. It can also prevent future tendon problems in the feet and ankles.
- Surgery. In tendon problems where there is a tear or rupture, surgery may be needed to repair the damaged tendon.
If you are experiencing signs of a tendon problem in your feet or ankles, contact Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry for an evaluation. We can provide a free consultation and create a personalized treatment plan to fit your specific needs. To set up an appointment, fill out our contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.