Tendinitis of the ankle

What is ankle tendonitis?

An ankle tendonitis is an inflammation of some of the tendons around the ankle joint.

To better understand why these injuries occur, it is useful to explain what tendons are and how they work. In the ankle, the tendons that operate in the ankle itself, in the foot and in the toes, each one with its determined functions, are gathered in a small space. We have tendons in the anterior part of the ankle – the extensor tendons of the toes, of the big toe and of the ankle: it is called tibialis anterior-, in the posterior part, the Achilles tendon and the flexor tendon of the big toe, in the internal part, the flexor of the toes and the tibialis posterior and in the external or lateral part the two tendons of the toes.

Tendons are transmitters of the muscular force needed to mobilize the joints. When a tendon is overloaded, we speak of tendinitis of the tendon.

This overfunction can come produced by an excess in its work, especially in the sport overloads with a bad program of adaptation or of progression or because the foot, fingers, ankle…etc work in bad biomechanical conditions as a result of a bad plantar support, of a capsular injury, or of the ligaments, of a previous fracture, by arthrosis… that causes a hypersolicitation of the neighboring tendons, with the consecutive overload.

How does it differ from a sprain?

Very often one speaks of tendinitis of ankle confusing the injuries of tendons with the injuries of ligaments. A tendinitis of ankle is product of an overload of some of the tendons. We have already mentioned that tendinitis can be the consequence of an alteration in function, due to excess or because there are alterations in the osteo-muscular system of the patient that cause an inadequate functioning of the tendon.

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One of these alterations are precisely ankle sprains, especially ligament ruptures, which often go unnoticed and are mistaken for sprains. In other words, ligament strains or sprains can lead to an added tendinitis if they are not properly resolved.

How can tendinitis be treated?

First of all, it is necessary to know how to identify the causes that produce it. If it is a sports overload, the factors involved must be corrected: overweight, poor hydration, a bad sequence of effort, an inadequate progression plan, poor physical condition for the type of training, poor footwear, inadequate terrain…

When tendinitis has already occurred, the tendon should be rested, and aids for inflammation and pain should be given. When the spasm and pain subside, a plan of progressive stretching should be performed, and then resume strengthening exercises. All of this should follow a well-established medical and physiotherapeutic plan to avoid worsening or relapse.

What precautions should we take to prevent tendinitis?

The most common are those produced by a little or badly regulated physical activity. It is very important that before restarting a sporting activity or preparing for a little practiced discipline, a medical checkup is performed in order to know the physical performance and health status of the patient to recommend an appropriate work plan, which may include dietary control, physiotherapy, orthopodological … etc..

In patients who are already regular athletes, muscle stretching plans before and after training programs are essential to avoid tendon overload. Obviously, for each sport, specific stretching should be done depending on the tendons being worked.