Cables are valuable supporters. They’re used to hold up bridges, pull elevators, and stabilize telephone poles. Your body doesn’t have metal cables, but it does have connective tissues that behave in similar ways. Tendons act like thick ropes and allow your muscles to pull on your skeleton. You have many tendons in your lower limbs. All of them can be susceptible to injuries or strain, leading to tendonitis.
More than Just the Achilles
Your Achilles tendon is the largest and most well-known of the tendons in the lower limbs, but it certainly isn’t the only one. All muscles in the lower leg and the foot itself that wiggle your toes or twist your foot back and forth are attached by tendons. You have several long, thin ones that run behind the inner and outer bumps of the ankle bones, and others that attach to your digits. Repetitive strain over a period of time aggravates the tissue, triggering it to swell, tighten, and grow inflamed. This causes the pain.
Typically the discomfort is worst when you’re active and trying to use that tendon. You develop an ache that can increase the more you use the tissue, but is alleviated when you rest for a while. The area around the inflamed tissue may swell and feel tender to the touch. Your foot may weaken and develop joint pain as well, making certain activities more difficult. If you have posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, you may start to develop flattened arches. Peroneal tendonitis may make you more prone to ankle sprains.
Don’t Wait to Take Care of Tendons
Fortunately, tendonitis of all kinds does respond to conservative therapy. The sooner you address your tendon discomfort, too, the better. Chronic connective tissue problems are more difficult to treat, since the affected tissue stiffens and grows less receptive to conservative methods. Eliminating the problem early, though, helps you recover more quickly and avoid persistent, limiting pain.
Relaxing Your Connective Tissues
Dr. Mitchell Wachtel will need to carefully examine your lower limbs to identify the location and severity of your tendonitis. Our staff may need diagnostic images or use other tests to check for tissue tears and rule out other conditions. When we have your problem identified, we can begin targeted treatment to alleviate the pain and restore function.
Rest is one of the key factors in recovering. You’ll need to take a break from all activities that cause discomfort. Ice the painful area as well; this helps decrease swelling and inflammation. Wearing a compression bandage may help with the edema as well. More serious cases may need your foot to be immobilized for a time to allow the connectors to heal. As the tissues recover, physical therapy can help rebuild strength in the lower limbs and maintain your range of motion. Stretching out tightened tendons can also help relieve strain on the connectors and reduce your discomfort. We may recommend anti-inflammatory pain medications as well. You may also need to change your footwear or use custom orthotics to accommodate any biomechanical issues that contributed to your injury. Rarely a tendon won’t respond to conservative methods, making surgery a treatment option.
Tendonitis can impact your feet in many ways, but it doesn’t have to limit your mobility. Let our team at Mitchell Wachtel, DPM, in Massachusetts help you. See how conservative care can restore your lower limbs to full strength. Contact our North Andover, Haverhill, and Lowell offices for an appointment by calling (978) 794-0633 or by using the online contact form.