Tendons of the Foot
By Ehren Allen, PT/Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist
What are the Symptoms of a Torn Tendon?
The foot and ankle have multiple tendons which run from the lower leg to the foot. Tendons are bands of connective tissue which connect muscles to bones. The tendons that cross that ankle and foot control the movement of the foot and ankle. There are 4 main movements at the ankle and foot.
- Dorsal flexion (pulling the foot and toes upward): The main tendon for this movement is the Anterior Tibialis.
- Plantar flexion (pointing the foot and toes downward): The main tendon for this is the Achilles Tendon.
- Inversion (turning the foot inward): The main tendon for this is Posterior Tibialis Tendon.
- Eversion (turning the foot outward): The main tendons for this are the Peroneal tendons (longus and brevis).
There are other tendons which help to control the movements of the toes. The big toe has strong and large tendon which control flexion and extension.
Tearing any of the tendons of the foot can be very painful. There may be trauma associated with a torn tendon of the foot. Ligaments sprains are more common but severe injuries may involve both. To learn more about ankle sprains, go to this VIDEO.
A complete tear of a tendon may limit the ability to walk. For example, if the Achilles tendon in the back of the foot tears, there is nothing to limit forward motion over the foot, which may prevent standing at all.
Can you Pull a Tendon in your Foot?
Pulling or straining a tendon in the foot is definitely possible. Both a pull and a strain are technically tears but the severity can vary. Usually, pulling a tendon in the foot can come from repetitive stress from excessive walking, standing, or running. It may also occur with trauma. Excessive steroid use may weaken tendons and make them more likely to tear.
How do you Treat Tendonitis in the Foot?
Tendonitis in the foot can be very painful during normal daily activity. Tendonitis is inflammation in a tendon. The initial treatment should involve ice and rest for the first 48 hours. If tolerable, light stretching of the tendon may be initiated. This may not be appropriate with severe injuries.
Anti-inflammatory medications may be helpful but a physician should be consulted before beginning the use of these medications.
Physical therapy is a great option to assess the severity and develop a custom program to rehabilitate tendinitis in the foot. A physical therapist can help with a healthy return to the previous activity level.
How long does it take a Tendon to Heal?
Tendons heal at different rates depending on the severity of the injury. Minor strains may take several weeks to recover. Severe strains or tears may take several months to recover. Severe injuries may require a surgical tendon repair. This process requires much more time to heal. Many times, the tendon and foot are immobilized for 2 to 3 months after the surgery. Then, there are 3 to 6 months of rehabilitation required to return range of motion, strength and normal walking tolerance.
To learn more about tendon healing time, go to this link.
JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000.
To schedule an appointment with an Orthopaedic Foot Specialist, please call JOI-2000, or click below.