Tendon & Joint Pain
Ankle & Joint Pain
One of the most common ankle injuries is an ankle sprain, a partial or complete ligament tear that results from sudden stretching. It can occur on either or both of the inner and outer portions of the ankle joint and more commonly occurs if there has been a previous injury or preexisting muscle weakness in the ankle.
Ankle sprains typically occur when you suddenly twist your ankle, as can happen during a sports activity, when walking on an uneven surface, or stepping down at an angle. You may experience a “popping” sensation when it happens, along with severe pain. Often, there is immediate swelling, stiffness, and bruising around the injured area.
Ankle sprains range in severity from grade 1 to grade 3, depending on whether it is a partial or complete tear. With a partial tear, you retain some ankle stability, but with a complete tear you lose stability because the ligaments can no longer support the ankle joint. The extent of injury can be determined with an X-ray and, in severe cases, may include a bone fracture.
An acute ankle sprain is initially treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to limit weight-bearing on the injured ankle and reduce swelling. Crutches may be recommended to prevent further trauma to the injured ligament. Anti-inflammatory medication can also reduce inflammation. However, more severe injuries may require a cast to immobilize the joint, surgical repair, and/or physical rehabilitation therapy.
Inflammation in the Feet
Another common form of tendon and joint pain in the feet and ankles is tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendon. It can involve the Achilles tendon, the posterior tibial tendon, or the peroneal tendon.
Ankle tendonitis is usually the result of trauma, such as a sports-related injury or an overuse injury. However, it can also be caused by an underlying inflammatory disease such as reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis.
The initial treatment protocol for tendonitis includes immobilizing the affected area, elevating the foot, limiting weight-bearing, applying ice, and using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduced inflammation. More severe cases of tendonitis may require orthopedic casting.
Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury affecting the band of tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. It’s a common injury in runners and middle-aged “weekend warriors” who play sports. Symptoms include heel pain and tenderness. Treatment of Achilles tendonitis usually requires rest and pain relievers.
If you have Achilles tendonitis, you should curtail sports and fitness activities to avoid rupturing or tearing the tendon. If the Achilles tendon ruptures, it may require surgical repair.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Posterior tibial tendonitis occurs when the tendon that attaches the back of the shin bone to the bones of the foot becomes inflamed. As a result, the tendon may not be able to provide stability and support for the arch of the foot, which results in flat foot. Treatment options include a cast or walking boot, shoe inserts and arch supports, activity modification, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Peroneal tendonitis involves two tendons that extend side-by-side down the lower leg bone (fibula), behind the bony lump on the outside of the ankle, and down the length of the foot. One attaches to the outside of the foot at the base of the little toe, while the other runs down the sole of the foot and attaches to the inside of the arch. Together they help stabilize the ankle.
When these tendons become inflamed from an increased load and overuse, they rub against the bone, causing pain and swelling at the back of the ankle, along with ankle instability. Treatment for peroneal tendonitis includes immobilization with a walking boot, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and bracing.
If you are experiencing ankle pain, or tendon or joint pain in your feet, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention. The podiatrists at Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care can diagnose your condition and provide the most advanced foot and ankle care to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible. To arrange a consultation, call us at the location nearest to you or use our convenient online form.