Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, and nearly any tendon in your body can be affected by it. However, one of the most common tendons it affects is the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the back of the heel. Other tendons that can be affected in the foot and ankle include the Posterior Tibial tendon (located on the inside of the arch) and the Peroneal tendon (located on the lateral side of the ankle). Whenever any of these tendons become inflamed, it is often very painful and may even interfere with daily activities.
You don’t have to be an athlete to develop tendonitis. Inflammation can be the result of injury, overuse, improper stretching, arthritis, or flat feet. The common symptoms of tendonitis include: pain (especially during activity), swelling, redness, stiffness and warmth.
Your podiatrist will be able to diagnose tendonitis based on the presence of the symptoms mentioned above as well as a comprehensive lower extremity exam. The great news about tendonitis is it typically responds very well to conservative treatment! Since it is an inflammatory condition, it can take a few weeks to months for it to completely improve. However, the more closely you follow the treatment guidelines, the quicker you will see results.
A good way to remember the treatment guidelines is: RISE
Rest – the best thing you can do is avoid the activities that make it worse. For example, biking, running, hiking, etc. Try temporarily switching to activities that put less stress on the tendon (e.g. swimming). This will give the tendon time to calm down and heal.
Ice– put a bag of ice over the tendon 2-3 times a day for 15-20 minutes at a time. Ice will help decrease the inflammation and speed up the heeling.
Shoes– you may have to modify your footwear. This can include a temporary brace, heel lifts or new shoes.
Exercises – appropriate stretches can help speed up the healing process. For a list of stretching exercises contact your podiatrist.
The best ways to prevent lower extremity tendonitis include: wearing correctly fitting shoes, always warming up before stretching or exercising, strengthening your leg muscles (particularly the calf) and exercising on soft, rather than hard surfaces. If you or someone you know has any questions about tendonitis, consider making an appointment with Dr. Gary N. Friedlander or Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We want to help you in relieving your tendon pain.