What Is Tendonitis of the Foot?
When you use a set of muscles too much, you’re likely to strain the tendons (soft tissues) that connect those muscles to your bones. At first, pain or swelling may come and go quickly. But if you do too much too soon, your muscles may overtire again. The strain may cause a tendon’s outer covering to swell or small fibers in a tendon to pull apart. If you keep pushing your muscles, damage to the tendons adds up, and tendonitis develops. Over time, pain and swelling may limit your activities. But with your doctor’s help, tendonitis can be controlled. Both your symptoms and your risk of future problems can be reduced.
Tendinitis is treated with a conservative approach. Your doctor may recommend a combination of rest, activity modification, heat and cold, medications, and physical therapy.
- Rest: The affected tendon should be rested so it can heal. You may have to stop performing the offending activity for a short period of time.
- Activity modification: The activity that caused the injury should be modified in such a way as to relieve the stress on the tendon. For example, if running gave you Achilles tendinitis, you may need to reduce your mileage, wear different shoes and then increase your mileage slowly.
- Splints: Sometimes splints are used to keep the affected joint in alignment during activities so stress is taken off the tendon (such splints and wraps are available for tennis elbow). Splints may also be used during the initial resting period to allow the tendon to heal.
- Cold and heat: Cold packs, slush baths, and ice rubs can reduce pain and swelling when the tendon is newly injured or is really bothering you. Hot packs, heating pads, or warm baths can feel good for the long-term ache that you may feel from an overuse injury.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be taken to relieve the pain and swelling of tendinitis. Other analgesics can be added for pain relief.
- Steroids can be injected into the tendon sheath for very direct pain and inflammation relief. Certain tendons should not be injected with steroids because it puts the tendon as risk of rupture (the Achilles for example).
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach techniques to stretch the affected tendon, thereby reducing the likelihood of reinjury. He or she can also assess your body mechanics and teach you better ways to perform the activities that give you trouble. Shoe inserts (orthotics) may be needed to adjust your running form, relieving pressure on your knee and Achilles tendons.
- Surgery: Rarely surgery may be needed to relieve the symptoms of tendinitis. Surgery would also be necessary if the affected tendon tore or ruptured.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is often caused by poor foot mechanics. If your foot flattens too much, the fascia may overstretch and swell. If your foot flattens too little, the fascia may ache from being pulled too tight.
With plantar fasciitis, the bottom of your foot may hurt when you stand, especially first thing in the morning. Pain usually occurs on the inside of the foot, near the spot where your heel and arch meet. Pain may lessen after a few steps, but it comes back after rest or with prolonged movement.
A heel spur is extra bone that may grow near the spot where the plantar fascia attaches to the heel. The heel spur may form in response to the plantar fascia’s tug on the heel bone.
Bursitis is the swelling of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between a ligament and a bone. Bursitis may develop if a swollen plantar fascia presses against a plantar bursa.