Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon—the flexible connective tissue structures that connect your muscles to your bones. Inflammation is the localized response by your body to injury or damage caused by chemical, physical, or biological agents. Most tendinitis treated by podiatrists and other healthcare providers is caused by tendon overuse, most commonly associated with athletic endeavors. Tendinitis in your feet and lower extremities can significantly impair your ability to perform your activities of daily living.
Tendinitis-related inflammation is caused by small microtears within your affected tendon. The three principle types of tendinitis in your foot and ankle include posterior tibial tendinitis, Achilles tendinitis, and peroneal tendinitis.
Posterior tibial tendinitis: Your posterior tibial tendon begins in your calf and runs down your lower leg to the inside of your foot arch. This type of lower extremity tendinitis commonly manifests in people who have flat feet. The stress associated with arch collapse may cause microtears in your posterior tibial tendon, resulting in pain and inflammation.
Achilles tendinitis: Achilles tendinitis is characterized by pain and other symptoms at the point where your Achilles tendon attaches to your calcaneus, or heel bone. Pain in the back of your heel is commonly accompanied by a palpable lump in your Achilles tendon. This problem is common among athletes, especially runners. Rapid increases in training volume, certain training errors, and carrying a heavy pack for prolonged periods may all contribute to or cause Achilles tendinitis.
Peroneal tendinitis: Your peroneal tendons are located on the lateral, or outside, aspect of your ankles and they help stabilize your foot and ankle during gait. Excessive stress on your peroneal tendons from foot injury-induced gait alterations may cause microtears in these structures, leading to pain and swelling on the outside aspect of your foot and ankle.
Causes and Symptoms
Numerous factors may contribute to or cause tendinitis in your feet and ankles, including:
- Strain, degeneration, or rupture of your involved tendon
- Foot abnormalities, such as flat feet
- Tight tendons, or tendon contracture
- Excessive hill walking or running
- Runners increasing their mileage too quickly
The localized response of inflammation within and around your affected tendon is associated with several noticeable physical symptoms, including:
- Decreased tendon function
- Fever (in some cases)
Lower extremity tendinitis usually responds to noninvasive, conservative care methods. Beneficial treatment techniques for this health problem include:
- Rest (especially avoiding activities that exacerbate your condition)
- Icing your affected area or using contrast (hot/cold) therapy
- Appropriate lower extremity stretches
- Shoe therapy (i.e. appropriate footwear changes or modifications)
Ask your podiatrist about the most helpful shoes in treating your lower extremity tendinitis.
In his 18 years as a podiatrist, Dr. Ray McClanahan has learned that most foot problems can be corr...