Tendons are strong, fibrous bands of connecting tissue that attach muscles to bones. The foot and ankle contain many tendons that perform essential roles in motion, flexibility and strength. Tendinitis (sometimes spelled tendonitis) refers to a condition that occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed or irritated. When a tendon becomes injured due to trauma, repetitive stress or for other causes, it can rub against the protective sheath that surrounds it. This movement produces friction which can cause pain and stiffness when the tendon is moved. Sometimes the pain will be accompanied by a “sticking” or “grating” feeling called crepitus that occurs as a result of friction between the tendon and surrounding tissues.
Tendinitis causes localized pain and tenderness around the affected tendon, as well as referred pain in the areas that rely on the tendon for normal motion. Pain may also be accompanied by swelling at or near the site of injury.
Achilles tendinitis affects the Achilles tendon which attaches the calf muscle to the heel. Symptoms of Achilles tendinitis include pain in and around the back of the heel and stiffness in the calf, especially when walking or running. Excessive exercise and failing to warm up before exercise are primary causes of Achilles Tendinitis.
In most cases, tendinitis can be successfully managed with conservative options like rest and application of heat and cold to promote circulation and healing while relieving inflammation. Oral medications and corticosteroid injections can also be very helpful in providing more immediate relief from symptoms so mobility can be restored. Custom orthotics are also vital in many treatment programs, helping to relieve pressure and strain on the tendon so it can heal properly and future episodes can be avoided. Physical therapy and therapeutic exercises and stretching can also play a role in treatment, promoting healing and decreasing symptoms.
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