Foot tendonitis affects the posterior tibial tendon which travels down the side of the ankle to attach to the underside of the foot. It helps to support the arch on the inner edge and to prevent the foot rolling inwards. The tendon becomes inflamed due to over-use or an injury, which causes pain.
Cause of Foot Tendonitis
When excess strain or stress is placed on the foot, tissues can be strained or tiny tears can occur, resulting in inflammation and pain.
Excess stress is placed on the tendons of the foot in several ways, the most common being:
- Walking or running on uneven ground
- Walking or running up steep inclines
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes
- Wearing the wrong type of shoes for the physical activity involved in
- Having flat feet or overly high arches
- Standing for long periods
Symptoms of Foot Tendonitis
Inflammation of the tendon causes pain in the arch of the foot. Some swelling and redness is also likely to occur. The ankle joint and the foot will probably be stiff and normal movement could be restricted. The arch of the foot may feel hot.
The pain may start as an isolated tender spot in the middle or front part of the arch but will increase in intensity if not treated. Pain is often worse during physical activity and at night. Standing on the toes will produce a sharp, stabbing-like pain in the arch of the foot.
The best treatment for foot tendonitis is rest. This means that you need to discontinue the activity that caused the injury, sit or lie down and raise the foot.
Rest is the first part of the R.I.C.E treatment method for injuries; this is a good method to use when treating foot tendonitis.
Ice the arch of the foot every 2 to 3 hours, for several days, until the pain subsides. Ice packs help to reduce the inflammation and relieve the pain.
Compression of the foot with an elastic bandage or tape helps to isolate the injury, reduce swelling and avoid movements that could make it worse.
Elevate the foot to above heart height to help reduce inflammation and swelling.
Anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve both the pain and the inflammation. Over-the-counter ibuprofen or aspirin are readily available; if these aren’t effective, your doctor can prescribe stronger medication.
Treatment needs to continue until the symptoms have completely gone; this could take several weeks. After a week or two, when the pain has eased, start doing simple, gentle flexing, extending and circling of the foot and ankle to prevent the joint becoming too stiff. If this hurts, stop and wait another few days before trying them again.
If these conservative methods of treatment are not effective, or the foot tendonitis recurs, consult your doctor. There are additional treatments that can be tried.
You can apply these preventative measure to help avoid tendonitis recurring. Once you have had foot tendonitis, it is important to stretch the tendons in the foot properly before any physical activity and even first thing in the morning. If your work requirements caused the tendonitis, do some stretching exercises before you start and after you have a break.
- Take care to warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising, paying special attention to the feet and ankles.
- When you return to normal activities after a break, do so gradually and ice the arch of the foot after your exercise session or work day.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that are appropriate for the activity you are doing. Specialist sports shoes are available that have been designed for most sports; wear the ones designed for your sport or activity.
- Arch supports can be fitted inside your shoes to give added support to your feet.
- Alternate different exercise and training methods to avoid excess stress being placed on the feet. Integrate some non-weight bearing activities.
- Try to avoid running and walking on hard surfaces, uneven ground, slippery surfaces and steep hills.
- If you need to stand for your work, get a thick rubber mat to put under your feet and take regular breaks to stretch and move your feet.
These tips for preventing foot tendonitis will help you continue your exercise, sport and work without pain or discomfort.