What is tendonitis?
Tendonitis in the ankle can occur due to an injury, repetitive movements, or underlying issues. Tendonitis causes many people to experience pain or swelling in one or both ankles. This pain may be worse after running, dancing, or working out. Tendonitis is a common cause of ankle pain that’s felt while working or exercising.
What is tendonitis in the ankle?
Tendons are the cords of tissue that attach your muscles to your bones. When a tendon gets inflamed, you experience tendonitis (also known as tendinitis). Repetitive movements and gradual overuse are common causes, but sometimes a sports injury may cause tendonitis.
Tendonitis can occur anywhere you have tendons. Some common places are:
- Base of the thumb
The main symptom of ankle tendonitis is pain around the ankle joint, especially when you move the inflamed joint or put weight on it. You may also notice swelling on or around the ankle. The ankle is vulnerable to tendonitis and other injuries because it supports your body weight. Also, as a multi-directional joint, it allows you to point, lift, and rotate your foot.
There are a few common kinds of tendonitis that affect the ankles:
- Achilles tendonitis refers to inflammation of the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscles to the ankle. This pain occurs along the back of the ankle.
- If you feel pain along the outer side of your ankle, you may have peroneal tendonitis.
- Anterior tibialis tendonitis results in pain down the front of the shin.
- Posterior tibial tendonitis often presents as pain and swelling along the inner side of the ankle and foot.
You may be at risk for developing tendonitis if you perform the same repetitive movements every day. For example, ankle tendonitis is a common issue for athletes like runners. As you age, the risk increases. People over age 40 are more likely to have tendonitis than younger people.
Diagnosis for tendonitis in the ankle
Before you receive ankle tendonitis treatment, you first need to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will likely want to discuss your lifestyle, symptoms, and the circumstances involved when you first noticed the pain.
Your doctor may:
Treatments for tendonitis in the ankle
Because tendonitis is most commonly the result of overuse, consider altering your work or workouts to be less repetitive and always use good form. Even after recovering from tendonitis, you’re still at risk for reinjury.
Because runners and other athletes are at risk for developing tendonitis, include preventive measures in your fitness routine. Thoroughly warm up before you exercise and allow recovery time between workouts. Consider incorporating strengthening exercises into your fitness routine to stabilize your joints.
Your doctor may also administer cortisone shots. Cortisone is a type of steroid that helps reduce inflammation. Your doctor will most likely limit the frequency of injections because they may be associated with joint damage over time.
Mild tendonitis may be effectively treated at home with RICE — which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Rest: Your ankle is a weight-bearing joint, so as much as possible, try to avoid standing, walking, or running when you first notice the pain. Also, avoid activities that may have contributed to the inflammation. So, if you are an avid runner, take a day or two off.
- Ice: Apply ice to the inflamed area to help minimize the swelling. Apply ice once or twice a day for at least 10 to 15 minutes a session.
- Compression: Wear athletic tape, compression socks, or wraps to provide support and help reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Rest with your ankle propped up or elevated above your heart level to help reduce the swelling.
You may need to seek care from a physical therapist. Depending on your needs, your physical therapist might use ultrasound therapy, massage, or water therapy, or prescribe specialized exercises to build strength and mobility.
Occasionally, surgery is used to treat severe tendonitis if it doesn’t respond to other treatments. If that is the case, your doctor would refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.
Possible risks and side effects of tendonitis treatment
While tendonitis may be effectively relieved with minimal risks, side effects of treatment do sometimes happen.
Cortisone injections have a range of possible side effects including allergic reactions, facial flushing, worsening joint pain, or bruising. Inform your doctor of any other medications you take, because some — like blood thinners — might increase the risk of side effects or have adverse interactions with the cortisone.
Allergic reactions are a possible side effect of many medications, including over-the-counter NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen. You may develop allergies and sensitivities over time, so watch for symptoms such as hives, swelling, headaches, or even anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) in rare cases.
Read your medication label for details on possible side effects and seek immediate care if you experience a severe reaction.
Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research: "Seven Steps to the Diagnosis of NSAIDs Hypersensitivity: How to Apply a New Classification in Real Practice?"
American College of Rheumatology: "Tendinitis (Bursitis)."
Arthritis Foundation: "Tendinitis."
Harvard Health: "Giving steroid injections a shot."
Harvard Health: "Tendonitis."
Hospital for Special Surgery: "Tendonitis / Tendinitis."
Mayo Clinic: "Achilles tendinitis."
Mayo Clinic: "Tendinitis."
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Tendinitis."
The Center Orthopedic & Neurosurgical Care & Research: "Anterior Tibialis Tendonitis."
The Center Orthopedic & Neurosurgical Care & Research: "Peroneal Tendonitis."
The Center Orthopedic & Neurosurgical Care & Research: "Posterior Tibialis Tendonitis."
University of Utah Health: "Everything You Need to Know About Tendinitis and Its Treatment."
UC San Diego Health: "Ankle Disorders."
Top How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Ankle Related Articles
Ankle Pain (Tendonitis)Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
What Is the Fastest Way to Heal Tendonitis in the Wrist?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your wrist tendonitis symptoms and help you manage this condition.
Foot Health: Causes of Swollen Feet and AnklesSwollen feet and ankles may be associated with conditions like pregnancy, injury, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic venous insufficiency, and lymphedema. Treatment may include home remedies, exercise, magnesium, and certain medications.
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Elbow?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your elbow tendonitis symptoms and help you manage tendonitis in the elbow.
How Do You Treat Tendonitis in the Foot?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your symptoms of tendonitis in the foot and help you manage tendonitis in the foot. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed and causes pain from repetitive movement. Learn the types of tendonitis, how it happens, and how to treat it.
Sprains and StrainsAn injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Tendinitis and Tendon Injuries: How It's Diagnosed?Tendons are flexible bands of thick tissue that connect your muscles to bones. They help to move the muscles or bones of your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle joints.
What Are the Benefits of Ankle Taping and Bracing?The concept of prophylactic (preventative) ankle wrapping was introduced more than 60 years ago to prevent or reduce the severity of ankle injuries. Tape or a brace may be applied before practice or a competition. Ankle bracing and taping should be done under the guidance of a sports medicine physician or a training athletic staff.
What Is the Best Treatment for Knee Tendonitis?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your knee tendonitis symptoms and speed up your recovery.
What Is the Best Treatment for Shoulder Tendonitis?Learn what medical treatments can help ease your shoulder tendonitis symptoms and help you manage this condition.
What Is the Best Treatment for Tendonitis?If you have tendonitis/tendinitis symptoms, the best treatment is RICE protocol. It means that you should immediately follow rest, ice, compression, and elevation.