Foot And Ankle Tendonitis – Is It As Serious As It Feels?

Whether you’re an athlete or a stay-at-home mum, you may well have experienced foot and ankle tendonitis. Indeed, foot pain can be caused by any number of things including badly fitting shoes, a broken or sprained toe, bunions or arch strain. And all too often we ignore the pain – especially if it’s sporadic – and hope that it’ll all go away.

How do you know when the pain you are feeling is tendonitis, and when should you seek treatment?

Symptoms of Foot and Ankle Tendonitis

Foot And Ankle TendonitisTendonitis can often be ignored or misdiagnosed because it can be infrequent and come seemingly without cause.

However, if you are experiencing any of the following, then we would encourage you to do a little more homework on your symptoms:

  • Pain in the foot or ankle. This could be a sharp pain or a duller, burning sensation, and more frequent when the muscles are cold, such as first thing in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • A localised pain in a specific area of the foot i.e. the top of the foot, or the Achilles area at the back of the foot.
  • Swelling in a particular area of the foot
  • Stiffness in the ankle and foot area limiting movement

Our tendons are those hardworking fibres which attach muscle to bone. When the muscles are strained, after injury or after frequent and repetitive movements, the tendons can develop tiny tears. This damage kick-starts the healing system and the body sends blood to the affected area to fix the problem.

Types of Foot Tendonitis

There are 5 tendons in the foot – each can be affected by different activities and each displays a different symptom.

Extensor tendonitis

Pain in the top of the foot generally caused by ill-fitting shoes, too much time on your feet, overexertion of the tendons (such as running uphill).

Achilles Tendonitis

Pain in the heel and lower calf area as a result of overexertion of the Achilles tendon, wearing of high heels or poorly fitting sports shoes, exercising without warming up or simply ageing.

Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Pain in the inner side of the foot caused by injury or overuse, with higher risk in people who are over 40, or suffer from obesity or diabetes.

Anterior Tibial Tendonitis

Pain in front of the ankle and into the midfoot. This is most often due to overuse and repetitive strain, but can also occur in older persons or from degenerative illnesses.

Peroneal Tendonitis

Pain in the back and outer side of the foot, resulting from injury or repetitive strain.

Treatment For Foot and Ankle Tendonitis

For the most part, foot and ankle tendonitis can be treated by resting the foot and keeping your weight off of it. Heating and cooling packs along with gentle exercise can also help – but most doctors will tell you to – quite literally – put your feet up.

However, if the tendons are severely damaged and rest or physiotherapy does not help, then you may need to chat with an orthopaedic surgeon who will scan the affected area and offer advice. Don’t leave it too late – foot and ankle tendonitis can be prevented and reversed with the right information.

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