What is tendonitis?

Tendons are comparable to ropes that move the foot and ankle. They attach muscles to bones. When the muscle contracts it pulls the tendon and moves the foot and ankle. Just like a rope that has become worn and frayed with time and use, tendons can also become worn and damaged.

When too much stress is put on a tendon, it can become irritated or inflamed. This is called tendonitis. Tendonitis can occur along the back of the leg and heel (Achilles tendon), inside of the ankle (posterior tibial tendon) or outside of the ankle (peroneal tendons).

What causes tendonitis?

  • increasing your activity level (such as starting a new exercise program or increasing the amount of exercise that you were already doing)
  • performing the same movements over and over (such as walking or running)

What can I do about tendonitis that has just started?

  • rest the leg until there is no heat or redness
  • avoid activities that make your pain worse
  • arrange to see a physiotherapist
  • take anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen (Advil)

What can I do if the tendonitis has been bothering me for a long time?

If the problem lasts more than about three months, changes happen inside the tendon. If you have tendon problems that do not go away after a few months, it is important to talk to your health care team because long-term or chronic tendonitis is treated differently. Chronic tendon problems are treated with special exercises taught by a physiotherapist or other health care provider with experience treating tendon problems.

It is important to do the right kind of exercises so you do not make the tendon problem worse.