What is tendonitis of the ankle or foot?

Foot or ankle tendonitis (also known as tendinitis) is inflammation of a tendon in the foot or ankle. Your ankle is one of the most common places to develop tendonitis because of the common repetitive motion in the joint area.

Types of tendonitis of the foot or ankle

  • Peroneal tendonitis — pain and inflammation along the outer edge of the heel.
  • Achilles tendonitis — causes heel and calf pain, typically felt when walking or running, extending all the way up to the middle of the calf.
  • Extensor tendonitis — causes pain on the top of the foot, a very rare type of ankle tendonitis.
  • Anterior tibial tendonitis — causes pain on the front of your foot, typically felt when walking down stairs or on sloped surfaces.
  • Posterior tibial tendonitis — pain and inflammation on the inner portion of the ankle (under the protruding bone), can contribute to flat foot.

Causes of tendonitis of the ankle or foot

The most common cause of foot or ankle tendonitis is overuse.

Other causes of foot and ankle tendonitis include:

  • An infection in the ankle or foot
  • Rheumatic disease such as gout or arthritis
  • A foot or ankle injury such as a sprain

Risk factors for tendonitis of the ankle or foot

Risk factors for tendonitis in the foot or ankle include:

  • Sports that require repetitive movement
  • Sports that may lead to overuse of the ankle such as running
  • People over 40 are more likely to have tendonitis in the foot or ankle
  • Men are more likely to develop tendonitis in the foot or ankle
  • People who are overweight are more likely to develop tendonitis in the foot or ankle
  • People who wear worn out shoes that do not support the feet are more likely to develop tendonitis in the foot or ankle
  • Previous injuries to the tendons in the foot or ankle

Symptoms of tendonitis of the ankle or foot

The most common symptoms of foot or ankle tendonitis are localized pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Pain is the first sign of foot or ankle tendonitis. The pain typically lessens over time but then resurfaces the longer you spend on the foot or ankle.

You should schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor, a podiatrist or an orthopedic specialist if pain and swelling worsen even after resting.

Diagnosis of tendonitis of the ankle or foot

Foot or ankle tendonitis is diagnosed under the care of your primary care provider, podiatrist, orthopedist or sports medicine physician. The physician will do a full physical exam and take your medical history.

Your physician may order an x-ray or MRI to determine if the injury is more severe. Fractures, tendon ruptures and calcifications require alternative treatments.

Treatments for tendonitis of the ankle or foot

Treatments for foot or ankle tendonitis range from rest, injections to surgery depending on the severity of the injury.

Treatments may include:

  • Orthotics
  • Splint or brace
  • Physical therapy & rehabilitation
  • Prescription medication
  • Steroid injection
  • Tendon transfer surgery
  • Ultrasound-guided nerve hydrodissection
  • Ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle tenotomy (PNT)

Recovery from tendonitis of the ankle or foot

Recovery from tendonitis tends to be a slow process. If the patient does not follow the physician’s orders to rest the impacted area the recovery time can be extended.

Find an orthopedic doctor nearby

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