Are you experiencing foot pain near a joint that worsens with movement? You could be suffering from tendinitis. Tendinitis (also spelled tendonitis) is inflammation or irritation of a tendon—the thick, fibrous cords that connect your muscles to your bones. The condition can cause dull, aching pain, tenderness, and mild swelling around a joint and can affect your ability to partake in certain activities.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the various types of tendinitis, what causes them, and, most importantly, how they can be treated so you can get back to doing all of the things you love. Let’s get started.
What causes tendinitis?
Tendonitis typically develops as the result of a sudden injury or repetitive movement over time. Any tendon can develop tendinitis, but it’s most likely to manifest in your feet, ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows, as these tendons are most commonly involved in repetitive activities. Tendinitis often develops in those whose jobs or hobbies involve repetitive movement, such as gardening, playing tennis, working on a computer, or playing a musical instrument.
Common types of tendinitis
Because there are thousands of tendons in the body, there are several different types of tendinitis. Tendonitis most commonly occurs in the feet and is a major cause of foot pain and foot problems. This is not surprising when you consider that they are the foundation that supports the whole body. However, tendinitis can develop in other parts of the body, too. Here are some of the most common types of tendinitis.
The Achilles tendon is the main tendon of your foot, running from your calf muscle to your heel. This type of tendinitis causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the back of the heel or slightly above the ankle. It’s common among those who play sports, especially if an individual’s activity level has recently increased.
Posterior tibial tendinitis
The posterior tibial tendon connects the calf muscles to the bones on the inside of the foot and is responsible for holding up the arch and supporting the foot when walking. This type of tendonitis triggers pain on the inner side of the ankle. It typically causes pain when walking and can make it nearly impossible to stand up on the toes.
The tendons of the peroneal muscles wrap around the outside of the ankle. With this type of tendonitis, you’ll experience pain and possibly swelling above and below the outer ankle.
Often called “jumper’s knee,” this type of tendonitis is common in athletes who perform repeated jumping activities. This condition affects the patellar tendon, which attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the shinbone, and causes pain and swelling directly under the kneecap.
Commonly known as “tennis elbow,” this type of tendonitis results in pain on the outer side of the elbow that may radiate down towards the wrist. As the name suggests, it’s common among those who play tennis or golf.
De Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis
This type of tendonitis occurs when the sheath that surrounds the tendons of the thumb become inflamed. Due to the thickened sheath and swelling, people with this condition find it painful to move the affected thumb, turn their wrist, grasp anything, or make a fist.
How to treat tendinitis
The treatment of all types of tendinitis centers around three elements:
- Initial limitation of movement involving the affected tendon. In some cases, a brace or walker boot may be appropriate to help stabilize the foot/ankle and limit movement.
- Reduction of inflammation. This is achieved through icing and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.
- Rehabilitation of the affected tendon. This is done through physical therapy, stretching, and massage.
For those suffering from foot tendonitis, using custom orthotic insoles in your shoes can help by reducing strain on the affected tendon, thereby limiting further damage. Orthotics are particularly beneficial for those with Achilles tendonitis and posterior tibial tendonitis and those who have flat feet.
The bottom line
While all types of tendonitis can cause significant discomfort and affect your daily life, foot tendonitis is a particularly uncomfortable problem. After all, you can’t go anywhere without putting weight on your feet! The good news is that with treatment, tendonitis can usually be resolved within a few weeks. In many cases, the use of orthotic insoles, such as Foot Levelers custom orthotics, can further support your recovery, strengthen your feet, and enhance your comfort.
No matter the type of tendonitis you’re experiencing, take it easy and put your recovery first. With prompt and proper treatment, you’ll be back in action in no time!
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Katie Koschalk is a health and wellness writer residing in sunny California. She has certifications in personal training and holistic nutrition and a fascination with how to best support the body for optimal health. When not writing about wellness, you can find Katie hiking in the mountains of Northern California, whipping up healthy plant-based meals, and playing with her two adorable cats.