Foot Tendon Injury: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Foot tendons are the connective tissue that joins the muscles of the foot to the bones. They are elastic, which makes them susceptible to getting torn if the foot is moved improperly. When they become swollen or inflamed it is referred to as tendonitis which can limit your mobility. The type of injury you sustain will impact what movements you will not be able to do as well as what part of the foot or ankle is in pain after the injury is sustained.

Symptoms of Foot Tendon Injury

If you are suffering from a tendon injury you will likely feel pain in the area that gets worse when you use that tendon to move. You may also note that this pain is more severe at night or when you first wake up in the morning. The area where the tendon is damaged may be warm, red or swollen, particularly if the tendon is inflamed. You may also notice that when you try to move the tendon that is in pain you hear a crunchy sound or feel a crunching sensation.

Causes of Foot Tendon Injury

  • Sudden Movement. If you suddenly move the foot in an improper or stressful way it can tear or stress the tendons. When the foot cramps, you are more likely to suffer this type of injury.
  • Flat Feet. Flat feet are caused when the structures that support the arch of the foot are not functioning properly. This condition will put pressure on the foot, increasing your risk of discomfort or injury.
  • Intense Activities. Athletes or other very active people are more at risk for developing Achilles tendonitis, particularly if they have not properly trained for the sport they take part in. Sports that require a great deal of repetitive movements can make you susceptible to foot injuries and trauma.
  • Overstretch. If you constantly overstretch the tendons you can cause them to become thin and tear. When you perform activities like running, cycling or taking part in other sports you will need to make a point of avoiding overstretching.
  • Structural Defects. If any part of the leg, hip or back has a structural defect it can cause the feet to suffer from injury or damage over time.
  • Overweight. If you are overweight you will be putting more pressure on the feet, stressing the tendons. Those that are obese are significantly more likely to suffer foot injuries than those that are a healthy weight.
  • Unhealthy Diet. If you maintain a healthy diet and stay active you are much less likely to suffer from tendonitis. Those that are not active tend to have weaker muscles, making the ligaments and tendons more susceptible to injury.
  • Improper Footwear. If you wear shoes that do not fit you properly it can put excess pressure on different parts of the foot, injuring the tendons. High heeled shoes are particularly known for causing these types of injuries.
  • Being Aged. Over time, the feet will experience “wear and tear” that will cause the ligaments and tendons to weaken, making it more likely that you will suffer an injury.
  • Health Disorders. Diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy in the feet that increases your risk of tendon damage. Issues like plantar fascia, which causes damage to the ligaments in the arch of the foot, can cause you to feel pain in the heels which may eventually lead to a tendon injury. Those with rheumatoid arthritis, especially elderly people, can suffer ligament pain as well as foot tendon injuries.

Diagnosis of Foot Tendon Injury

In order to diagnose a tendon injury your doctor will need to ask you a series of questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and any relevant health issues in your past. They will then perform a physical examination of the affected foot. This may involve asking you to demonstrate how you use the foot during sports or other activities to get a feel for what part of the foot you are stressing. If you receive treatment for a tendon injury that does not appear to be effective your doctor may perform an ultrasound, MRI or x-ray to determine if there may be another problem contributing to your discomfort.

Home Remedies for Foot Tendon Injury

  • Rest. You must make a point of resting a tendon that has been injured. Any stressful activities can make this injury worse.
  • Massage. Massaging your foot with sesame oil, mustard oil or olive oil can help improve your range of motion and soothe a sore tendon.
  • Weight Loss. If you are overweight you will have a harder time healing a tendon injury and will be at a greater risk for developing another one in the future. Your doctor can recommend steps that will help you lose weight so you can avoid this potential risk.
  • Ice Compress. Ice will help take down the inflammation in the affected area. Apply a cold compress to the foot for 10-15 minutes as a time at least two times per hour. Keep this up for the first 72 hours after your injury.
  • Right Footwear. When you take part in an active lifestyle you need to make sure that you have the proper footwear to support your body. Look for shoes with plenty of cushioning that will be able to take the impact of the activities you are taking part in.
  • Stretch Exercises. Calf stretches can help you relieve pressure on a sore tendon. Stand facing a wall, placing the hands on the wall at eye level. Lunge backward, allowing the heel of your back leg to touch the ground, standing slightly pigeon toed. Put all of your weight on the wall to stretch this back leg and hold for 20 seconds. Release and repeat with the other leg. Perform 3-4 repetitions with each leg to get the desired effect.

Medical Treatments for Foot Tendon Injury

  • Physical Therapy. If home remedies are not effective on healing your injury your doctor may recommend a physical therapy program. These programs will include a range of exercises intended to relieve the pressure in the foot.
  • Medications. Your doctor will likely recommend that you take pain killers like ibuprofen that can help with the discomfort and swelling associated with a tendon injury.
  • Injections. Injections may be prescribed for severe injuries to take the pressure off a damaged tendon.
  • Brace. If the Achilles tendon is damaged it is common for your doctor to provide a brace or splint to hold the tendon in place so it can heal properly.
  • Surgery. Surgery is often considered the last resort for treatment. These procedures will repair tears or other damage to the tendons. Afterward you will need to wear a brace to allow the area to properly heal.

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