Tendonitis Foot Pain: How to deal?

What Is Tendonitis Foot Pain?

Tendonitis Foot PainTendonitis foot pain is a common problem stemming from overuse of the posterior tibial tendon, which is why it occurs mostly in runners (new or consistent) or other athletes. Tendonitis foot pain is a painful condition caused by swollen or injured tendons in the body, especially in the foot area. Many people who regularly experience tendonitis foot pain are aware of what triggers it and they know how best to manage their pain.

Tendonitis foot pain is your body’s way of telling you, “Enough! Traditional treatment methods for this type of foot pain are often slow to provide relief and often do not address the true source of the problem, leading to incomplete relief and a high rate of recurrence.  The most important thing you can do to improve tendonitis foot pain is to rest the area, that’s hard to do when it’s your foot!

Here is a video that may give you an idea about tendonitis foot pain and how to deal with it.

Extensor Tendonitis

Tendonitis foot painExtensor tendinitis is inflammation of the extensor tendons which run along the top of the foot and straighten the toes. Pain is felt along the top of the foot.

Treatment involves rest, application of cold therapy during the acute stage followed by a full rehabilitation program including gentle stretching and strengthening exercises.

Extensor tendonitis symptoms

Symptoms of extensor tendonitis consist of pain on the top of the foot which is made worse during running and is relieved with rest. Pain is likely to occur gradually over time through overuse with the athlete complaining of an aching pain on the top of the foot. There may also be some diffuse swelling over the top of the foot. Symptoms may also be felt when the tendons are stretched by curling the toes. One assessment test is resisted dorsiflexion where the therapist resists the athlete attempting to pull the foot upwards. If pain is triggered then the extensor tendons are likely to be involved.

Extensor tendinitis explained

Tendonitis foot painExtensor tendonitis or extensor tendinopathy as it is probably better known now amongst the medical profession is one of the most common causes of ‘top of foot pain’. It affects the tendons which pull the foot upwards (tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, extensor hallucis brevis and extensor digitorum longus tendons). Tibialis anterior tendonitis is most common. The term tendonitis implies inflammation of the tendon (itis meaning inflammation) whereas tendinopathy is probably a more accurate term.

It is a general term which includes degeneration of the tendon rather than acute inflammation. Extensor tendonitis is usually caused by overuse. Badly fitting shoes or shoes that are laced too tightly causing pressure on the top of the foot can cause inflammation of the tendons. A change in training methods, particularly running uphill, particularly on a treadmill can also place more stress on the extensor tendons at the top of the foot. Running up hill means the foot has to be lifted slightly higher on each stride. Running down hill the muscles work eccentrically which again places stress on the extensor tendons as can running on ice or slippery surfaces.

Extensor tendonitis treatment

What can the athlete do about inflamed extensor tendons? Tendonitis foot pain

Rest until the pain has gone. Continuing to train when the foot is painful will only make the injury worse and delay the healing. If it becomes chronic or the tendon degenerates then healing will take much longer. Apply a cold therapy and compression wrap. Apply ice of cold therapy can be applied for 10 minutes every hour initially reducing frequency as required over the next 48 hours. Ice can be applied in a wet tea towel or with a re-useable ice pack. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as it may burn. Read more on PRICE principles. Once the initial painful acute stage has passed then application of heat may be more effective.

Ensure footwear is appropriate and in particular the shoes are not laced too tightly. Over tightening the laces puts direct pressure over the extensor tendons in the foot. It may help to try a different lacing pattern. Running shoes are usually good for 400 miles of running and then would benefit from being replaced. When all pain has gone a full rehabilitation program to strengthen the extensor muscles should be done. A sports injury professional can advise on the correct exercises to strengthen the extensor muscles. These should always be done pain free and with care. As this is often an over use injury doing too much too soon may increase the chances of the injury recurring rather than achieve the opposite result. Toe raise exercises which lift the foot up and curl the toes back will work the foot extensor muscles. These should be done in the seated position initially and will also work other muscles of the lower leg and shin.

What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?

Tendonitis foot pain A professional will assess the injury and confirm the diagnosis ruling out the possibility of a metatarsal stress fracture. Often pain on passive stretching indicates tendinitis, but pain when the toes are pulled outwards might indicate a stress fracture. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen although this should not be taken if the patient has asthma. If it is a long term problem a steroid injection may be given although repeated injections to tendons can weaken the tendon. In very rare cases surgery is performed.

Proper tendonitis treatment can help speed recovery.

The goal of medical tendonitis treatment is to alleviate pain and inflammation. Some steps to tendonitis treatment are to stop the activity that caused the pain, rest the affected area for at least three weeks, apply anti-inflammatory medicine to the area, and maybe even put a brace on the area. Overall, a typical time frame for the treatment can last eight to 12 weeks with one to twice weekly visits.

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Author: Allison Yardley

Allison has 6 years in practice as a Chiropractor's Assistant and is a licensed Massage Therapist who writes for numerous blogs online. Feel free to comment or ask questions regarding any of Alley's blog posts.