Ankle Injuries: Tendonitis is a Common Culprit
Caused by inflammation of the tendons of the foot and the ankle, ankle tendonitis is an especially common form of ankle injury. The condition presents with pain, swelling and stiffness of the ankle, and causes difficulty in walking and performing routine activities. Tendonitis may be caused by overuse of the tendons, injury, flat foot or bony spurs, or some medical conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis or reactive arthritis. While treatment is typically non-invasive, tendonitis often requires a minimum of 2-3 months before it is completely healed.
The three common types of tendonitis-related ankle injuries are:
- Achilles tendonitis – The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the ankle. When this tendon gets inflamed and swollen, it causes pain at the back of the heel.
- Posterior Tibial Tendonitis – The posterior tibial tendon passes behind the medial malleoli, which is a protrusion on the inside of the ankle joint. When this tendon gets inflamed, it causes pain on the inner side of the ankle.
- Peroneal Tendonitis – The peroneal tendon passes behind the lateral malleoli, which is a bony protrusion on the outer side of the ankle joint. When this tendon gets inflamed due to overuse or tightness in the calf muscles, it causes pain on the external aspect of the ankle.
The ankle is a weight-bearing joint that carries the weight of the entire body. If ankle injuries are not immediately attended to, they can cause permanent damage to the ankle and can affect basic activities like walking and running. Treatment involves managing the pain, hastening the healing process, and bringing back normal joint movement as soon as possible, including:
- Applying ice to the ankle for 20-30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours
- Maintaining immobilization
- Reduce swelling and provide support using a compression bandage
- Keep the ankle elevated using a pillow to reduce swelling
- Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen can help control the pain
- NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can help reduce pain and swelling
- Supports (braces, a boot or orthotics) can help stabilize the ankle and heel
- Physical therapy exercises, massages and manipulations will help recover movement and function, and regain strength and flexibility
- If tendonitis does not respond to the above more conservative treatments, the next line of treatment is commonly extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), which uses shock waves directed to the affected area through the skin in a calculated and controlled manner.
- Surgery is a last resort, and will be used if all other treatment efforts fail. Surgery can be used to repair the affected tendon and bring back normal activity of the ankle.
Recovery from ankle injuries takes few months to a year. It is important to avoid strenuous activities untill complete recovery to avoid recurrence of ankle tendonitis or chronic ankle pain.
For help determining whether your ankle injuries are caused by tendonitis and how best to begin treatment, please contact Warner Orthopedics and Wellness at 225-754-8888 or visit us at warnerorthopedics.com.
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Dr. Meredith Warner is a board certified, Fellowship Trained Foot and Ankle, Orthopedic surgeon practicing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Warner is committed to offering her patients an accurate diagnosis along with a comprehensive treatment plan in order to get them back to a pain free life. Dr. Meredith Warner specializes in the treatment of orthopedic issues, providing operative and non-operative treatment plans of orthopedic problems, including musculoskeletal pain such as chronic back, neck and foot pain, reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle, arthritis, diabetic, hammer toe, bunion, wound care, work injuries, fitness and nutrition and osteoporosis issues.