When you have foot pain, diagnosing the issue is the first step toward getting back to doing the things you love. But sometimes figuring out the root cause is complicated. For example plantar fasciitis and heel spurs are often confused for each other. Another tricky foot ailment? Tendinits.
Your feet are much more complex than you might think. In fact, nearly a quarter of all the bones in your body are in your feet. A quick anatomy lesson - Each of your feet has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Each component of your foot plays a role in your range of motion and the mobility your daily life requires. However, all the different parts in your foot mean lots of opportunity for injury.
Foot tendinitis - sometimes spelled tendonitis - is a common cause of foot pain that occurs when a tendon becomes irritated or inflamed. Tendinitis can affect any tendon in the foot, and since there are so many of them, it may be difficult to tell what you have if you’re in pain.
Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to identify your foot tendinitis and determine the best treatment based on the location of your symptoms.
To understand what causes tendinitis of the foot, you have to know what a tendon is. A strong, cord-like band of tissue that connects muscle to bone, tendons can withstand a great deal of force, but they have limits. When a tendon works too hard for too long, or in the wrong way, tiny tears start to develop. That's where tendinitis starts.
To cure these tears in your tendon, your body creates inflammation, which is a vital part of your immune system's response to injury and infection. It your body's way of signaling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue. An inflammation in a tendon is called tendonitis.
The most common cause of tendinitis in your foot is overuse, but sudden injury can also be a culprit. Athletes who push too hard or people who spend lots of time on their feet both have a higher chance of developing tendinitis. Injuring the foot or ankle, as well as having flat feet or high arches can also increase this risk. But the type of tendinitis that develops has to do with several factors.
Because your foot is so anatomically complex, there are a number of different types of foot tendinitis that can cause you pain - Achilles tendinitis, posterior tibial tendinitis, peroneal tendinitis, extensor tendinitis, flexor tendinitis and anterior tibial tendinitis. With so many different types, you'll want to see a medical professional for an official diagnosis and course of treatment.
You've probably heard of the Achilles tendon. It's the main tendon of your foot, running from your calf muscle to your heel. It makes running, jumping, climbing stairs and standing on your toes possible.
The posterior tibial tendon attaches the calf muscles to the bones on the inside of the foot. It holds up the arch and supports the foot when walking.
Two peroneal tendons wrap around the outside of the ankle. One connects to the little toe and the other to the big toe.
The extensor tendons run from the front of the ankle, across the top of the foot, and attaches to the tips of the toes.
The flexor tendon runs from the lower leg, along the inside of the ankle, and connects to the big toe.
The anterior tibial tendon lies on the inner front part of the ankle and helps to lift the foot and ankle upwards and inwards.
Since tendinitis of the foot can strike many places in the foot, start by seeing a medical professional who can help you determine which tendon is inflamed. Treatment will usually involve taking a rest from your activities, icing the painful area and using pain medications. Stretching connecting muscles and making adjustments to your shoes may also help.
Pain relief insoles are ideal for addressing Achilles tendinitis and posterior tibial tendinitis, and may be appropriate for other types of tendinitis as well. A podiatrist or sports medicine professional can help you figure out whether insoles are right for you.
An inflamed tendon in the foot can impact your exercise routine and daily life, but the good news is it's usually a minor problem. Listen to your body, take time off when you need it, and make changes to your exercise habits as necessary. Your feet, and the rest of your body, will thank you.
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Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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