Foot and Ankle Tendonitis

Foot and ankle tendonitis occurs when there is swelling or irritation of the tendons in the foot or ankle. This is a common cause of foot pain and is usually due to excessive strain on the foot area. Running, walking, and excessive standing can all put strain on your feet.

Tendonitis can affect any of the tendons in the foot, resulting in conditions like Achilles tendonitis and extensor tendonitis. Foot and ankle tendonitis can affect people of all ages, but is more common amongst adults who engage in a lot of physical activity. Older individuals are also more susceptible to tendonitis because tendons can lose elasticity and become weaker as a person ages.

Common Causes of Tendonitis

While there are many things that can cause tendonitis, below are the four most common causes of foot and ankle tendonitis.

  • Injury
    Trauma to a person’s foot or ankle can cause tendonitis. Injury can occur during physical activity, for example, jumping too suddenly or powerfully. Another way injury can occur to the foot or ankle is chronic rubbing against a shoe. This most often occurs at the top of the foot or heel, which results in tendonitis of the Achilles tendon.
  • Overuse
    Over-stretching and tearing of the tendon is the most common cause of tendonitis in the foot or ankle. Overuse occurs when there is an extensive increase in physical activity and the tendon is being worked too hard in a short period of time.
  • Medical Conditions
    Medical conditions that cause inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout, can lead to tendonitis of the foot or ankle.
  • Abnormal Foot Structure
    Foot abnormalities can put stress on one or more tendons. Examples of abnormal foot structure are being flat footed (pes planus) and having high arches (pes cavus).

Symptoms of Foot Tendonitis

Symptoms of foot and ankle tendonitis will vary depending on the location and severity of the tendonitis. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain
    Sharp and burning pain is typically the first sign that there is a problem. While the pain starts off localized to where the tendon is located, as the condition worsens, the pain can spread quickly. The longer someone stays on their feet, the more pain they will experience.
  • Swelling
    After a few weeks of minor symptoms, a person may begin to develop swelling. He or she may notice a lump forming over the tendon that is tender to touch.
  • Stiffness
    The foot and ankle may become stiff as a result of tendonitis, causing painful movement.

Treatment Options for Foot Tendonitis

Treatment for tendonitis is aimed to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Below are some of the common treatment options for foot tendonitis.

  • Rest
    Patients suffering from tendonitis should refrain from any activities that may be causing pain and discomfort. If a complete stop is not possible, it is strongly advised to reduce doing the activity as much as possible. Bandages, splints, and braces can help reduce movement.
  • Heat and Cold
    Ice-not heat- should always be used during the initial phase of the healing process which typically lasts 48-72 hours following injury and involves swelling and pain. If applying a regular wet-ice pack-as opposed to the chemical cold packs- it can be placed directly on the skin for 15-20 minutes or until the numbing sensation kicks in. If using a chemical ice pack, please remember to use a barrier such as a towel in between the skin and the ice pack as to eliminate the possibility of a chemical burn.

    the initial stages of pain and swelling decrease heat can be used to draw blood to the muscle to increase flexibility.
  • Physical Therapy
    The best option to help treat foot and ankle tendonitis is to see a physical therapist. They will be able to manipulate and massage the affected area correctly, providing relief and accelerating the healing process. A physical therapist will design the right exercise plan to stretch and strengthen the affected tendon.

Schedule a Consultation with a Physical Therapist

If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your foot or ankle, you may be suffering from tendonitis. Be sure to contact JAG Physical Therapy today so we can help relieve your pain and get you back on your feet!