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Foot Tendonitis Causes and Treatments

Foot tendonitis is a relatively common condition. It is often seen in athletes or people who engage in activities that involve repetitive foot movements, such as running, jumping, or dancing. It can also occur in individuals who have structural abnormalities in their feet, such as flat feet or high arches.

The prevalence of foot tendonitis varies depending on the specific type of tendonitis, but it is estimated that up to 25% of athletes may experience Achilles tendonitis at some point in their athletic career. Posterior tibial tendonitis and peroneal tendonitis are also relatively common in athletes and individuals who engage in activities that put stress on the feet and ankles.

While tendonitis can be a painful and potentially debilitating condition, it is typically treatable with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and physical therapy.

What Is Foot Tendonitis?

Foot Tendonitis Causes and Treatments

Foot tendonitis is a condition that occurs when one or more tendons in the foot become inflamed or irritated. Tendons are tough, fibrous cords that connect muscles to bones and allow for movement.

Several tendons in the foot can be affected by tendonitis, including the Achilles tendon, posterior tibial tendon, peroneal tendons, extensor tendons, and flexor tendons. Foot tendonitis is usually caused by repetitive or overuse of the tendons in the foot. Some of the common causes include:

  • Sports and Physical Activity: Engaging in sports or physical activities that require repetitive movements of the foot, such as running, jumping, or dancing, can put stress on the tendons and lead to inflammation.
  • Foot Structure: Having an abnormal foot structure, such as flat feet or high arches, can put added stress on the tendons in the foot and lead to inflammation.
  • Improper Footwear: Wearing shoes that do not fit properly or provide enough support can also contribute to foot tendonitis.
  • Age: As people age, their tendons can become weaker and more prone to injury.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause inflammation in the tendons in the foot and lead to foot tendonitis.
  • Trauma: Direct trauma to the foot or ankle, such as a fall or a sports injury, can also cause foot tendonitis.

What Types of Foot Tendonitis Are There?

Several types of tendonitis can be developed in the feet, however, some are more common than others. The three most common types of foot tendonitis are as follows.

#1 Achilles Tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is a condition that occurs when the Achilles tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. The Achilles tendon is the largest and strongest tendon in the human body and connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It allows you to point your toes downward, walk, run, and jump.

  • Achilles tendonitis can be caused by overuse, such as repeatedly participating in activities that put stress on the Achilles tendon or a sudden increase in activity level. It can also be caused by wearing improper footwear or having tight calf muscles.
  • The symptoms of Achilles tendonitis include pain and stiffness along the back of the heel, particularly in the morning or after periods of rest, and swelling in the area. In severe cases, there may be a bulge or knot in the tendon.

#2 Posterior Tibial Tendonitis

Posterior tibial tendonitis, also known as posterior tibial tendinopathy, is a condition that occurs when the posterior tibial tendon becomes inflamed or damaged. The posterior tibial tendon runs along the inside of the ankle and helps to support the arch of the foot.

  • It can be caused by overuse or an injury to the foot. It can also be caused by wearing improper footwear or having flat feet or fallen arches.
  • The symptoms of posterior tibial tendonitis include pain and swelling along the inside of the ankle and arch of the foot, particularly during activity or after prolonged periods of standing. There may also be difficulty in walking or standing on tiptoe.

#3 Peroneal Tendonitis

Peroneal tendonitis is a condition that occurs when the peroneal tendons become inflamed or irritated. The peroneal tendons run along the outside of the ankle and help to stabilize the foot.

  • Peroneal tendonitis can be caused by overuse, such as repeatedly participating in activities that put stress on the tendons or a sudden increase in activity level. It can also be caused by wearing improper footwear or having high arches.
  • The symptoms of peroneal tendonitis include pain and swelling along the outside of the ankle and foot, particularly during activity or after prolonged periods of standing. There may also be difficulty in walking or standing on the affected foot.

Many tendons run in our feet, and the exact number can vary depending on how they are counted. However, a commonly cited number is that there are 20 tendons in the human foot.

These tendons serve to connect the muscles of the foot to the bones and are important for maintaining proper foot and ankle movement and stability. That said, other groups of tendons in the feet can develop tendonitis, though these are considered less common. Some other types of tendonitis include

Extensor Tendonitis

Extensor tendonitis is a condition that occurs when the extensor tendons of the foot become inflamed or irritated. The extensor tendons run along the top of the foot and allow you to lift your toes and foot upward.

  • Extensor tendonitis can be caused by overuse, such as repeatedly participating in activities that put stress on the tendons or a sudden increase in activity level. It can also be caused by wearing improper footwear or having tight calf muscles.
  • The symptoms of extensor tendonitis include pain and tenderness along the top of the foot, particularly during activity or after prolonged stagnant periods. There may also be swelling or redness in the affected area.

Flexor Tendonitis

Flexor tendonitis is a condition that occurs when the flexor tendons of the foot become inflamed or irritated. The flexor tendons run along the bottom of the foot and allow you to curl your toes downward.

  • Flexor tendonitis can be caused by overuse, such as repeatedly participating in activities that put stress on the tendons or a sudden increase in activity level. It can also be caused by wearing improper footwear or having tight calf muscles.
  • The symptoms of flexor tendonitis include pain and tenderness along the bottom of the foot, particularly during activity or after prolonged periods of standing. There may also be swelling or redness in the affected area.

Anterior Tibial Tendonitis

Anterior tibial tendonitis, also known as shin splints, is a condition that affects the anterior tibial tendon. This tendon runs along the front of the lower leg and is responsible for dorsiflexion of the foot (lifting the foot upwards) and supporting the arch of the foot.

  • Anterior tibial tendonitis is often caused by overuse, particularly in athletes who engage in activities such as running, jumping, or dancing. It can also be caused by a sudden increase in activity level, wearing improper footwear, or having flat feet or high arches.
  • The symptoms of anterior tibial tendonitis may include pain and tenderness along the front of the lower leg, particularly during activity, as well as swelling and aching. In severe cases, there may be difficulty in lifting the foot or standing on tiptoes.

    Treatment for Foot Tendonitis

    The treatment for foot tendonitis depends on the type and severity of the condition, but generally involves a combination of the following:

    1. Rest: It is important to avoid any activities that cause pain or discomfort to the affected foot. Resting the foot allows the damaged tendons to heal.
    2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help to reduce pain and swelling. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
    3. Compression: Wrapping the affected foot with a compression bandage or wearing a compression sleeve can help to reduce swelling and support the foot.
    4. Elevation: Elevating the affected foot above the heart can help to reduce swelling and improve blood flow to the area.
    5. Physical therapy: Physical therapy exercises can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the foot and ankle and improve flexibility. A physical therapist can also guide proper footwear and orthotics.
    6. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
    7. Surgery: In severe cases of foot tendonitis, surgery may be necessary to repair or remove damaged tissue.
    8. Orthotics: Custom orthotics can help treat foot tendonitis, especially when it is caused by structural abnormalities in the foot, such as flat feet or high arches.
    Custom Orthotics For Tendonitis

      Custom orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts made to fit the individual’s foot and provide support where it is needed. They can help to redistribute pressure and reduce stress on the tendons, which can help to alleviate pain and inflammation.

      Custom orthotics may also help to correct abnormal foot movements or alignment issues that can contribute to foot tendonitis. Chat with us now to get your questions answered and get started on ordering your custom orthotics and healing your foot tendonitis today!

      Frequently Asked Questions
      • How do you get rid of tendonitis in your foot?
        • Treatment for foot tendonitis includes resting, icing the affected area, applying compression, elevating your foot, physical therapy, medications, surgery, and custom orthotics.
      • How long does foot tendonitis take to heal?
        • Foot Tendonitis can take up to 3 to 4 months to heal with the proper treatment such as custom orthotics. 
      • Does foot tendonitis ever go away?
        • It is possible for tendonitis to heal over time through the treatments above.
      • What is the fastest way to get rid of tendonitis?
        • To treat your foot tendonitis, you can follow the tips listed above.